KwaZulu-Natal’s department of agriculture and rural development has heeded the cries of farmers to prioritise livestock programmes as well as secondary commodities in the new financial year.
Tabling her third budget speech since taking office, MEC for agriculture and rural development Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi stated that livestock was “undoubtedly” a viable mechanism with which poverty could be reduced.
As a result, her department has coined the 2021-2022 financial year as the “year of livestock production”. This means livestock farmers can now look forward to benefiting from major departmental support initiatives.
“There is so much potential for livestock to contribute immensely [to] our economic recovery and growth,” Sithole-Moloi stated.
“This is the reason why we have declared this year as the ‘year of livestock’ in order to unlock the livestock potential in KwaZulu-Natal.”
In preparation of this year’s programme rollouts, farmers directed the department to focus its support programmes. The province earlier sought inputs from farmers as to how its programmes should be structured to best serve them.
Major strategic interventions for economic recovery are on the cards.
This includes plans for the white and red meat industries, cotton and wool production as well as the development of dairy infrastructure. This includes dairy cows, processing facilities, equipment, distribution and the commercialisation of goat value chains.
Livestock production programme
Delivering her speech, Sithole-Moloi said her department would be supporting 49 livestock value chain enterprises. These will include 23 beef projects, 11 poultry projects and 15 pig production projects at a total budget of R110 million.
A provision of R37 million has been made to support the supply of dipping chemicals, vaccines and other medicines as interventions targeting communal livestock farmers.
Sithole-Moloi also plan on supporting over 3 400 producers in the red meat commodity value chain.
In the medium-term framework, there will be a focus on increasing production and productivity of communal and land reform farmers. This will be to create a conducive environment for the critical mass.
Communal beef improvement
Meanwhile, R10 million has been allocated to commence the department’s communal beef improvement pilot programme in three districts.
The programme seeks to improve the genetic potential of the communal beef herd through the introduction of artificial insemination and follow-up bulls with superior genetics.
It is envisaged that the full implementation of the programme will result in the creation of 300 job opportunities in the long term.
Goat farming programme
A further R5 million has been allocated to roll out the commercialisation of goat farming through an improvement programme.
The programme, piloted in five districts, seeks to improve the production of goats and goat meat, including ancillary products.
A total of 750 goat caregivers are expected to be capacitated through structured training programmes to implement the programme. To date, R3 million worth of veterinary medicines to initiate the programme have been procured.
Wool improvement project
Furthermore, the department has vowed to construct six shearing sheds. These are expected to be a conducive environment for the harvesting of wool by small-holder farmers like commercial enterprises.
For this, R4.5 million has been allocated. The successful implementation of this project is expected help unlock R6 million revenue per annum supporting 274 farmers.
Livestock production and research
Focusing on livestock production, Sithole-Moloi said she understood the criticality of involving livestock associations in the rehabilitation programmes to create a sense of ownership and belonging.
Her department will therefore capacitate livestock associations. Currently, there are 53 livestock associations in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Research and technology development into the sustainable utilisation of (agriculture) is critical,” Sithole-Moloi said.
Extensive focus will therefore be paid to the development of appropriate technology for the sustainable use of natural resources by livestock.
The adaptation and development of technology appropriate to livestock production in KwaZulu-Natal is currently underway in research stations for dairy, beef, sheep, wool and goat production.
Technical requirements development for Nguni cattle, indigenous sheep and goats and are also currently underway.
The department has also committed to rehabilitating 544 dip tanks, mainly in rural areas. They are in the process of building another sustainable model for maintenance and the repair of dip tanks by livestock associations.
Currently, over 2 000 operational dip tanks are servicing 2.1 million cattle in communal areas.
Sithole-Moloi said that after engaging with livestock owners, she has realised that there was a need for extensive dialogue about the sustainable model that was being developed.
Her department called on livestock owners to assist with ensuring that facilities are properly maintained and repaired.
Primary animal health care
Furthermore, the MEC was pleased with how her department was handling primary animal health care through the compulsory community service (CCS) programme.
Sithole-Moloi is, however, concerned about some major issues. “There is a serious lack of capacity and infrastructure to cater for a day-to-day animal care.
“I am disquieted when I see the challenges facing our people when it comes to animal health due to the lack of daily access in rural areas. Most of them are forced to take their animals to high-cost private clinics.”
To address this, her department has established permanent veterinary clinics in township and rural areas. In the previous financial year, about 20 CCS vets were placed while a further 15 vets will assumed duty this year.