Namibia Cattle Exports to South Africa Soar as Drought Worsens

Namibia’s exports of calves to South Africa may jump by two-thirds to 250,000 this year as farmers in the southern African country seek to stave off the effects of drought, even as higher sales lead to lower prices.

“We have been encouraging all our farmers to sell livestock to get them off the grazing,” Sakkie Coetzee, the executive executive manager of the Namibia Agricultural Union, said in a phone interview on August 23.

The country is in the grip of the worst drought in 30 years and many farms no longer have grazing or water, Coetzee said. The NAU, which represents more than 2,400 commercial farmers, says livestock prices have dropped to 14 Namibian dollars ($1.35) per kilogram liveweight, down as much as 30 percent from last year.

The country’s agricultural output is forecast to decline by 5.5 percent this year before expanding by 6.1 percent in 2014, according to the latest quarterly review issued by the Bank of Namibia on August 21. Crop production will shrink by 9.3 percent this year and grow 5.2 percent next year.

The NAU says it will take as long as five years for farmers to recoup their losses and to operate profitably. “The impact of this drought will be felt for the next two years but as farmers it will take us about five years to restock,” Coetzee said.

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