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Pork industry to prioritise small-scale farmers

Small-scale pig farmers will be the subject of three research studies by the South African Pork Producers’ Association this year. The industry seeks to better understand constraints and challenges these producers face, seeing them as essential for future growth

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South Africa’s pork industry says it wants to include the country’s small-scale pig farmers in the commercial marketing chain and has vowed to zero in on the dynamics of these famers’ operations throughout 2021.

The South African Pork Producers’ Association (Sappo), which is the mouthpiece of pork producers in the country, believes the industry’s success post-Covid-19 depends largely on embracing new opportunities.

Therefore, in line with this pro-growth viewpoint, it says smallholder farmers will be the focus of at least three SAPPO research projects this year.

Market constraints and quality assurance  

According to Dr Francois Siebrits of Sappo’s research committee, the studies will, among others, focus on small farmers’ marketing challenges, risks and the quality of the pork that these farmers produce.

Dr Francois Siebrits, member of SAPPO’s research committee. Photo: Supplied/FoodForMzansi
Dr Francois Siebrits, member of Sappo’s research committee. Photo: Supplied/FoodForMzansi

“To include small farmers in the commercial marketing chain,” Dr Siebrits states, “We have to understand what their constraints and challenges are.”

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Last year, Sappo told Food For Mzansi that pork producers should ensure that their products are nutritious, healthy and traceable. This advice was in light of the the fact that much attention is expected to be focused on the traceability, accessibility and affordability of food going forward.

With the advent of Covid-19, small-scale pig farmers were forced to rethink their marketing strategies after attempts to sell in informal markets proved unsustainable.

Many have since started marketing through abattoirs.

Pork industry post Covid-19

SAPPO’s CEO, Johann Kotzé, believes that the pandemic requires a great amount of emotional intelligence and requires collective effort from all stakeholders.

Johan Kotze, CEO of the South African Pork Producers' Organisation. Photo: Supplied/FoodForMzansi
Johan Kotze, CEO of the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation. Photo: Supplied/FoodForMzansi

However, “SAPPO’s strategy is in line with the requirements for the new world of business we face by providing clarity and direction. We will still do everything in our power to make a contribution to a sustainable pork industry,” Kotzé explains.

South Africa is a minor player in the global pork market, accounting for only 0.18% of global pork production. The local industry produces about 182 000 tonnes, while imports amount to about 25 000 tonnes. Import countries include Germany, France, Spain, Canada, Brazil and the USA.

Kotzé also deems continuous interaction with all industry role players a must to better understand the challenges and opportunities the industry faces.

“The Covid-19 pandemic put Government under severe pressure, especially with regard to finances available to assist South Africans. We must create ways to reach out to the government on how we could possibly assist to maintain the excellence and efficiencies in the industry,” Kotzé believes.

Farmers, brace yourselves for change

Meanwhile, the way in which veterinary services was once provided to local pig herds may change soon because of the pandemic.

Dr Peter Evans from South African Pork Producers' Organisation. Photo: SAPPO.
Dr Peter Evans from South African Pork Producers’ Organisation. Photo: Supplied/SAPPO.

According to Dr Peter Evans, responsible for consumer assurance at Sappo, the pandemic forced them to look differently at matters such as farm visits.

“I am convinced that the many creative and innovative digital solutions that pig veterinarians came up with last year will be very valuable in future,” he says.

Additionally, the African swine fever outbreak on a compartmentalised commercial farm last year should be an eye opener to all,” reckons Dr Evans.

“A re-evaluation of the compartment system to further mitigate the risk of disease introduction is necessary. Farmers are encouraged to ensure that implementation of protocols occurs continuously to protect their herd,” he says.

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Duncan Masiwa
Duncan Masiwa
DUNCAN MASIWA is a budding journalist with a passion for telling great agricultural stories. He hails from Macassar, close to Somerset West in the Western Cape, where he first started writing for the Helderberg Gazette community newspaper. Besides making a name for himself as a columnist, he is also an avid poet who has shared stages with artists like Mahalia Buchanan, Charisma Hanekam, Jesse Jordan and Motlatsi Mofatse.
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