The state-owned meat firm Meatco, Namibia, sent a shipment of 25 tonnes of beef to Philadelphia on Wednesday, and the Southern African nation is set to export 860 tonnes of various beef cuts in 2020 to the United States, rising to 5,000 tonnes by 2025.

The United States is the world’s biggest red meat consumer as Americans consume on average 120 kgs of meat per person, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Namibia’s minister of international relations, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, said.“We’re able to finally export meat to the lucrative and big U.S. market,”

Namibia’s first commercial consignment came after samples were sent in the past 24 months to U.S. laboratories for tests. Negotiations over safety regulations and logistics have spanned 18 years.

Under the deal, exports will include boneless, raw beef cuts in frozen or chilled form.

“Namibia will benefit economically from tapping into the largest consumer market with purchasing power of $13 trillion, and U.S. consumers will benefit from access to Namibia’s high-quality, free-range, grass-fed beef,” U.S. ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said.

In 2019, Namibia exported about 12,400 metric tonnes of meat to Norway, Britain, the European Union and Chinese markets.

Agriculture contributes about 5% to Namibia’s economy but farming including cattle raising contributes to nearly two-thirds of the population’s income.

Namibia’s exports will also benefit from a duty-free regime under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Outside the Hosea Kutako International Airport in Namibia, a mobile hospital has been set up for the immediate containment and treatment of coronavirus cases.

The unit was moved from the Okahandja military base to accommodate suspected coronavirus patients, and to allow for immediate treatment when detected at the international airport.

The hospital is said to have 18 beds, an intensive care unit with two beds, a pre-theatre reception with one stretcher and a casualty department with four stretchers.

Kalumbi Shangula, the Health Minister said that the hospital was set up to ensure immediate containment and treatment of coronavirus cases.

He announced that the mobile field hospital is up and running and that it will be used for the testing, treatment and quarantine of individuals suspected of having contracted the coronavirus.