A new strategy to formalise and grow Mzansi’s game meat industry has been welcomed by game farmers across the country. It is not only expected to differentiate game meat in the South African market, but may be a chance to get a grip on industry challenges right from the outset.
Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) CEO Richard York has dubbed the seven-goal strategy, which has been gazetted for public comment, as a step in the right direction to build the industry into becoming more competitive and attractive to investors.
“What we like about the strategy, is that it talks about establishing a game board which will regulate the industry. When the board is there, we will want to form part of that board so that we can address issues of concern,” he tells Food For Mzansi.
Expanding the wildlife industry and ensuring continuous growth is not a job government can do on its own, York believes. Therefore, all stakeholders need to work together, especially when it comes to implementing the strategy.
What’s the strategy all about?
The seven-goal strategy on how the game meat industry can grow, transform and create jobs, includes:
- Goal 1: To increase game meat production from the current 59 184 tonnes per annum to 100 000 tonnes per annum by 2030.
- Goal 2: Increased compliance (meat fit for human consumption) of game meat from the current 10% to 85% by 2030.
- Goal 3: To increase the number of thriving previously disadvantaged individuals, women and youth ranchers and other game meat value chain actors from the current 4% to 25% by 2030.
- Goal 4: To grow job opportunities in the game meat sector by 10% per annum by 2030.
- Goal 5: Shift from an informal by-product of hunting to commercial meat production, processing and marketing industry with 30 large production enterprises, five large harvesting enterprises, and 10 large processing enterprises by 2030.
- Goal 6: 1 million hectares of community-owned land brought into game meat production with associated localised value chains by 2030.
- Goal 7: The game meat industry becomes consumer demand driven.
Addressing a poaching problem
Andrew Aphane, a game farmer in North West, welcomes the strategy but also calls for a detailed implementation plan that will address concerning issues at length.
“For us as farmers, implementation of the paper will be of critical importance as this will not only be a document that is signed, but that is used to legalise the industry and to deal decisively with aspects like poaching.”
Of great concern to Aphane, is the level of poaching that is experienced in the wildlife industry. He says communities should be taught that hunting with dogs in the veld is classified as poaching too, and illegal if they are not registered hunters.
He believes communities should also be made aware of the value of game meat and that dog hunting and poaching with snares destroy the value of the commodity.
“There is a lot of game meat in the informal market. We hope that the white paper will discourage the trade of informal game meat in the country at large [and] also help to reduce poaching and dog hunting on game farms.
“The department should also look at the whole value chain of game meat transformation: from breeding and curling to meat processing and meat products,” he says.
Transformation in action
While Aphane is happy that government recognises the industry’s ability to grow and create jobs – if and when given the necessary support – he has concerns about how the state intends to help previously disadvantaged individuals in the sector “who cannot get through to the financial institutions for financial assistance because of the reluctance of banks to recognise [them],” Aphane says.
Meanwhile, York believes a key component of true transformation will be mentorship, especially for young game ranch farmers.
“I would say transformation is there. However, it is a process; it is not an overnight thing.”
“There is a lot of mentorship that is needed, and guidance. There is also breeding processes that should be considered,” York adds.
He further points out that, for game ranching to reach its peak on a farm, it can take between three to five years. “It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that there is exposure to how things are done. Skills development and mentoring are critical.”
In a recent press statement, Barbra Creecy, the ministry of forestry, fisheries and the environment, said that the aim of the strategy was to attract investment to the game meat sector and to open local, regional and international market opportunities which require the transformation of the industry to ensure future growth.
“The strategy and implementation plan are aimed at creating a formalised, thriving and transformed game meat industry in South Africa that contributes to food security and sustainable socio-economic growth,” Creecy said.
Among others, the strategy also seeks to address barriers to entering the market which include access to land, the legislative framework, a lack of accurate information regarding market size, and disease outbreaks.
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