Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, so its agriculture is largely dependent on groundwater. Despite high temperatures and scarcity of water, Namibian farmers have successfully raised cattle for decades.

As of November 2020, around 70% of the country’s population derives income directly or indirectly from agriculture, and the industry is also one of Namibia’s largest employers.

Excluding fisheries, agriculture’s contribution to her GDP in Namibia has averaged 4% over the past five years. His contribution to GDP in 2019 was 6.6%. Meat processing accounts for his 0.2% to 0.4% of GDP. According to the German Association for International Cooperation, animal husbandry accounts for about 66% of Namibia’s agricultural production, and animal production (especially beef) is mainly export-oriented (see table).

South Africa is Namibia’s largest import partner, with food making up most of these imports. Other important import partners are the Netherlands, Germany, Russia and Morocco. In 2019, Namibia exported approximately 12,400 tonnes of meat, mainly to the United States, Europe, South Africa and China.

Commercial and subsistence farming dominate the country’s agricultural sector. The commercial sector covers over 44% of the area, 41% of which is subsistence farming.


Cattle are mainly produced in northern and central Namibia, while sheep production is mainly concentrated in the southern part of the country. The most popular beef cattle breeds in Namibia are Brahman, Bonsmara, Simmental and Simbra.

Commercial beef production can be divided into two production systems.

Cattle production and piglet production, the latter being currently the larger of the two. The piglets are sold at auction and exported alive to South African feedlot farms where steers of various ages are slaughtered. Over the years, piglet farming has become more popular than steer farming, largely due to rising feed prices, making piglets relatively cheap to produce.

consistently exceptional

Despite difficult farming conditions, commercial farmers haveconsistently succeeded in producing superior cattle and meat. Developing a production cost index by unions.

“The index is based on product baskets for each expense category. Each category is given a weight based on its size to the total agricultural expenditure of the average Namibian livestock farm. The same is true for income. Income is primarily based on the relative prices of sheep and cattle.

“The relative cattle price consists of a combination of the average piglet price and the average carcass price, weighted appropriately according to sales volume.

“We index from a base year, taking proper account of expenditures and incomes. This allows us to effectively compare changes from the base year.

This production cost index can therefore be used to quantify the phenomenon of profit squeeze and monitor it over time,” reported Farmers Weekly in January 2016.

Another reason for Namibia’s success in beef production is the fact that the country is sparsely populated and has extensive rangelands. Land is still affordable and labor costs are relatively cheap. As a result, meat production is cheaper for farmers in Namibia than in many other countries.

Livestock issues

Despite the benefits of livestock farming in Namibia, producershave recently experienced declining profitability, largely due to high input costs. In addition, scrub erosion and rangeland degradation continue to be a threat to viable and sustainable beef production in the country.

Increased seasonal droughts leading to climate change and reduced natural grazing are also concerns about the long-term sustainability of the industry.

Land and feed are essential for viable beef production, so meat industry stakeholders are concerned that Namibian farmers’ ability to feed the animals will be threatened, according to a US Department of Agriculture study. increase.

Another threat to the industry is veterinary cordon fence (VCF) damage and lack of maintenance. VCFs are particularly vulnerable to damage by large mammals such as elephants.

The VCF aims to prevent cattle movement between the north and south of the country. In this way, the Namibian government hopes to be able to better control the spread of diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). As seen in South Africa, FMD could ban or restrict exports from Namibia.

Municipal farmers face similar challenges, as well as limited access to markets and high quality breeding stock.

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