The manual titled “Demonstrate an Understanding of the Free-Range Beef Production Environment” and a related training programme is expected to give farmers a direct link to a very lucrative beef market in the country.
Developed by the High Value Beef Partnerships (High VBP) project, the manual seeks to aid South African farmers in meeting Woolworths’ exacting meat specifications.
The development was supported by the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, the Agricultural Research Council, the National Agricultural Marketing Council and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
The leader of the project, Dr. Baldwin Nengovhela, said in a media statement: “The manual is available for public use and service providers can seek accreditation to be able to present it in support of the sector that want to support small or commercial farmers to meet this market specification.”
High VBP has been on a mission since 2013 to prove that high-value free-range beef products can be developed from cattle from small smallholder farmers producing beef.
The agri-organisation approached mega-retailers who gave different specifications on their beef requirements.
“The project had interest in specifications that promised better prices when met and settled on supporting farmers to meet free-range beef (specifications) as branded by Woolworths South Africa,” Nengovhela states.
According to Nengovhela, the challenge was getting smallholder beef farmers to understand what is in the specifications, adopt it and alter practices to meet these specifications.
The solution was developing a training guide that incorporates all aspects of delivering beef to the retailer and then using it to recruit and train farmers, so that their animals can comply.
The learner guide is aligned with an industry standard (level 3 standard unit number 116647), which replaced feedlot practices with free range practices. Also, the manual is reviewed annually and is very specific to the two value chains supporting Woolworth with their free range beef.
Nengovhela added, “The language used, followed the agriculture sector education wording of AgriSETA which was considered critical to help scale the manual use.”
The manual can be downloaded on the project website www.highvbp.co.za