Smallholder farmers face many obstacles to professionalizing their businesses and entering the global market. Within the Southern Africa Development Community, there are approximately 67 million cattle. While a small portion of beef is produced by professional farmers, the vast majority of cows are kept by smallholder farmers, who suffer from low productivity and limited progress.
The newly created Southern Africa Roundtable for Sustainable Beef consists of stakeholders from across finance, health, government and research to support smallholder farmers mitigate animal disease, create market linkages, and access finance opportunities. By joining this roundtable, these players have all made a commitment to support smallholder farmers increase their livestock supply to abattoirs.
Speaking at the rountable’s launch, Hussein Jakhura, of Nyama World Group, its newly appointed President, said:
“Smallholder farmers in the majority of the countries in this region still use their livestock as collateral, rather than as a business. We need to train them to see the business opportunity in beef production. They need support with resources and training. So as a joint forum for the region, there will be pilot projects in different countries that will attract the right donors.”
Angela Mulenga, Solidaridad’s Country Manager for Malawi and Zambia asserted the need for such a forum to help the region tackle animal disease. She said this issue has proved to be a great barrier for smallholder farmers to access export market opportunities. To date, Botswana and Namibia have led the region in attaining a strong export market.
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, the custodians and driving force of this platform, is determined to give smallholder farmers a more nuanced understanding of how ecosystems work and specifically, to share the advantages of having livestock and crop farming co-existing. Reflecting on this, Mr Ruaraidh Petre, Executive Director of The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef said:
“In the past, there has been an overemphasis of one approach over the other and that this has been problematic. The immediate aim therefore is to help strike a balance between crop and livestock farming.”
An interim board has been established to manage the affairs of the Southern Africa Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and to focus on beef production in the region. Solidaridad is the lead facilitator of this roundtable and has committed to supporting this initiative by acting as its secretariat for the first two years.
Learn more about Solidaridad programmes for sustainable livestock here.