Farmers in the rural parts of the Eastern Cape are learning to generate wealth from owning cattle and how to reap the economic benefits of cattle farming.
In the picturesque village of Centane, well-respected businesswoman and a pioneer in the agricultural industry Gloria Serobe, along with the Beefmaster Group, are giving cattle farmers the opportunity to generate lasting wealth for themselves and their communities.
The project started in 2021 is slowly changing the lives of farmers – from Mnquma through to the entire Amathole district – with the boundary-pushing Transkei Feed Kraal Project.
Serobe said, “It is a game-changer for communities as it gives cattle farmers access to a market that previously did not exist.”
Breaking the cycle of poverty
Centane has a long agricultural history, however, the village has always suffered from poverty.
“Centane is an area with good weather conditions to cultivate livestock. However, this isn’t enough to translate livestock into liquidity for the community.
“We see a lot of poverty, while animals roam around. The only thing that can change this is access to a market,” said Serobe.
Selling cattle at the right time
The project also addresses some misconceptions about how to reap the economic benefits of farming cattle, such as when to sell cattle.
“Many people may make the mistake of putting more value on an older bull, rather than weaners – or younger cattle between the ages of nine and ten months. However, there is no economic reason that justifies this,” Serobe explained.
Older animals cost farmers more over time to raise and keep, while young cattle require less feed, making input costs for the period of owning the animal, less.
The bull’s value in the eyes of the market reduces with time. It is therefore much more lucrative for farmers to sell their cattle earlier.
“By selling one small, young animal every year, rather than selling one big or older animal every three years, farmers can double their income.”
In addition, the longer animals are kept, the bigger they get, which means problems in terms of over-grazing and trampling of vegetation happens, rendering the land useless. But if animals are sold quicker when young, the land continues being lucrative, Serobe advised.
“The most valuable animal in the herd is in fact the cow because of its ability to bear calves. In other words, a farmer’s return is better because the cow can produce more.”
Also, introducing fewer bulls into the herd also improves the quality of livestock.
“Perhaps a long time ago people didn’t have tractors and they used bulls to plough, but things have changed, so bulls are not as useful as they were then.”
Bringing farmers together
The Transkei Feed Kraal Project is a formalised space for farmers to sell and buy cattle in Centane. This allows the people of the area to benefit from trading with cattle in a sustainable manner.
Based on the farm of the late King Xolilizwe, run by Centane-born manager, Thabo Magandana, the project received an initial investment of R6 million.
Roelie van Reenen, supply chain executive at Beefmaster Group, says Centane was chosen for the project because it has the most cattle in the country.
“Yet many of these farmers struggle with viable routes for their products. The more formalised structure also addresses and solves many problems that come with the informal trading of cattle.
“Including a safe means of transaction, as well as a physical space where farmers can gather and buy and sell cattle,” said Van Reenen.
Farmers in the Eastern Cape who wish to learn more about how they can trade their cattle at the Transkei Feed Kraal can contact Thabo Magandana at 083 728 9286.
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