Stimulating rural livestock production in South Africa

South Africa’s Eastern Cape province is one of the poorest areas in South Africa. This project aims to capacitate smallholder farmers in rangeland and livestock management so as to improve the sustainability of livestock farming in the area. The overall goal is to improve the health of the animals, increase production and ultimately to better the livelihoods of poor farmers. The Savory Institute, the Olive Leaf Foundation and Solidaridad have formed a partnership with traditional leaders and the local community to make this possible.

The initiative is being co-funded by Solidaridad’s Farmer Support Programme (FSP), and is aimed at enabling smallholder farmers to improve their rangeland and livestock management techniques and introduce sustainable livestock farming practices in line with the principles of Grassland Regeneration and Sustainable Standard (GRASS). Additionally the project will be guided by the principles of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB).. It is expected that the programme will produce improved livestock, increase market up take and thus farmers incomes whilst at the same rehabilitating the degraded grassland environment prevalent in the Eastern Cape area.

This pilot project will cover a total of five villages and a total of 10 000 subsistence and emerging farmers. As the land is owned by Traditional Leaders in Tribal Trust, local communities and individualsneed to co-operate and collaborate on the use of the land and come to common ageements. In order to facilitate this, a “core group” is the primary decision-making body for the pilot project. This “core group” will be predominantly comprised of Chiefs and Headsmen, and it will be mandated to make decisions regarding land use in the interests of mobilisating farmers to become emerging commercial livestock producers. 600 farmers will be trained in rangeland management, and through them the outreach of the intervention will extend to 10 000 people, 20% of which will be women.

The production focus is cattle farming as this is the predominant form of agriculture in the area. As the majority of farmers do not possess formal agricultural training, the lead partner and additional partners will focus on providing significant support in training and capacity building. The objectives are: To train farmers on sustainable management methods; to upgrade the agricultural infrastructure; to promtoe communal livestock cross breeding and thus improve the quality and quantity of beef in the region; to ensure that beef is sustainably produced through implementing GRASS standards; to create market linkages forthe improved beef products; to create a learning platform (hub) through which farmers can learn about sustainable rangeland management along GRSB standards.

Impacts and Sustainability

Impacts and Sustainability The Solidaridad FSP funding supports training, marketing, the implementation of standards, and provison of technical support. The overall expected impact of the project is focused on increasing production, income and employment. It is estimated that at the end of the project, production will have increased by 30%, leading to higher incomes for farmers; with a total revenue increase of R4 140 000 by 2016. There will be an estimated 80 new jobs created 600 farmers will become emerging commercial farmers and 10 000 people will benefit from the project either directly or indirectly.

Solidaridad and Olive Leaf Foundation has arranged an off take agreement with Peace Farms and Abattoir, a local abattoir which will purchase market-ready cattle from smallholder farmers within the project. Evenson Farms will be a commercial partner in the project and will assist with farmer mentoring, training and advice. Commercial links such as these will ensure production up-take and sustainability of the project after its completion. A local retailer has recently signed an agreement to off-take all the susitnably produced meat from the project. In addition the initiative intends to create a business hub as part of the sustainability and extension of the project. Savory Institute will manage the Hub setup. The intention is that the Hub will be a self-sustaining instrument which will continue to operate even after the partners’ exit. It will provide on-going training, consulting and monitoring services, and will eventually qualify for carbon and water credits once the market has been sufficiently stimulated.

The eventual goal of widespread implementation of sustainable rangeland management and livestock farming will boost the livestock market in the Eastern Cape. In addition, the Hub-setup and market links created will enable project sustainability and higher impact in the long term.