18 years in the making …as Namibian beef finally enter US market

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - Namibia made history this week by becoming the first African country to export its beef to the United States of America.

This is the second time in less than a year that Namibia’s beef penetrated a big market after it also became the first African country to export beef to China last year.

The negotiations between Namibian and US officials started 18 years ago and reached its pinnacle, when the first beef consignment designated for the U.S market was dispatched from the southern African nation on Wednesday.

To put into context, despite the negotiations between the two parties started in 2002 no other African country has been able to enter the U.S beef market during that period.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, described the moment as a great achievement in the advancement of the two countries’ economic diplomacy.

Speaking at the occasion of sending the first consignment of beef to the US on Wednesday in Windhoek, Nandi-Ndaitwah said she was proud of the entire Namibian agricultural industry/farming especially the livestock producers for their hard work thus making a meaningful contribution to the national Developmental Agenda.

The journey of Namibia’s beef finally entering the US market was not short of obstacles.

In 2002 and again in 2005, the government of Namibia initiated negotiations on the  export  of  meat  (beef)  products  to  the  United  States,  with  the  intention  to export boneless (not ground) raw beef products such as primal cuts, chuck, blade, and beef trimming. 

Technical experts confirmed that Namibia had to go through rigorous   several audits.    Last year September, through the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS), the country underwent a public health and assurance audit by the United States of America via Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS).   On an annual basis, DVS submitted an online self-audit, which FSIS verified with an onsite audit every two years.

The audit ensured that Namibia complies with all the import requirements of the US beef market and, based on the final audit report, Namibia was granted excess to continue exporting to the USA.

“Today (Wednesday), 18-years later, we are able to finally export meat to the lucrative and big market.   I think this may be one of the longest protocols ever that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of USA and the Namibian Directorate of Veterinary Service (DVS) had taken to ensure that all technical areas are cleared and are in accordance with various established protocols. It is said, “nothing good comes easy”, today Namibia is proud of this achievement,” Nandi-Ndaitwah said.

Wednesday’s consignment is the first official one following numerous samples sent over the last 24-months for thorough testing and sampling at America’s laboratories.

Under the final approval agreements, Meatco will be exporting boneless raw beef products like primal cuts and beef trimmings as well as chuck and blade.

“This also means that we can export both chilled and frozen boneless meat (excluding offal, “matangaras”) to the U.S.  The  strategy for  this  particular  market  is  to target  the  fast  food  industry  and  franchises  like  McDonald’s,  to  provide maximum returns for Meatco and our producers. This is another niche market that has opened for Meatco, giving Namibia more options to maximise returns for our products.  Furthermore, this new market should encourage Namibian farmers to be more innovative to increase their production while maintaining the standard/quality,” Nandi-Ndaitwah.

The major driving factor that is fueling the demand for the global beef market is the  rise  in  the  disposable  incomes  of  the  consumers  in  some  major  countries across the world. Rise in urbanization is another major factor that is driving the beef market across the world. Moreover, beef is rich in protein. 

Thus, Nandi-Ndaitwah said the increase in awareness of the need for high protein consumption of beef the better for the industry, and for Namibia as a producer.

Ministry of agriculture, water and forestry minister Alpheus !Naruseb said in  creating  a  win-win  cooperation  environment,  there is a need  to  combine  complementary  strengths  while  striving  to  meet  each other’s respective  needs. 

“The success  of  the  beef  story  shows  how  this  can  be  achieved.  Namibia  as  a developing   country   continuously   and   rigorously   striving   to   expand   its international  markets  for  meat  and  meat  products  while  creating  more  job opportunities  for  its  people.  Namibia  will  continue  to  seek  beneficial  trade agreements  for  more  livestock  products  designed  to  ultimately  enhance  the livelihoods  of  the  farming  community and  meat  industry;  whilst  making  sure that our trading partners enjoy high quality meat that is of a high standard and meets international food safety requirements,” he said.

 

 

 

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