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.