Eastern Cape beef production needs improvement

If the quality and consistency of beef production among the Eastern Cape’s emerging cattle owners could be rapidly improved, the province would be the leader in top-quality beef production nationally.

Eastern Cape beef production needs improvement
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This was according to Mlibo Qoboshiyane, MEC of the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (EC DRDAR).

Qoboshiyane was speaking after a meeting recently held in Mthatha with leaders of the Eastern Cape chapters of the National Emergent Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (EC NERPO), and the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa.

The MEC said that the province had 3,2 million cattle, most of which belonged to people on communal land that, for a variety of reasons, was poor in productivity and quality.

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“We need to change customary mind-sets of cattle ownership and management. There must be defined production methods and goals set and aimed for. The cattle for sale must be tender, tasty and still young, not old and tough,” he said.

Qoboshiyane said that for his province’s cattle owners to move from emerging to commercial farmer status, dramatic improvements were needed all the way from primary production to feedlotting.

He said that the EC DRDAR had been made aware that the lack of formal beef production infrastructure in the province’s communal areas was a problem. The department was, therefore, working on remedying this situation as soon as possible.

“These are critical matters because there need to be pastures, grazing camps, and cattle handling facilities so that the communal cattle owners can grow their animals in a manner that is demanded by the market. This is especially important in areas where there are no commercial beef farmers to supply product,” Qoboshiyane continued.

He also wanted to see beef production skills being transferred to these emerging cattle owners.

“This will all create the opportunity for the emerging cattle owners to massify what they are doing. The Eastern Cape currently only produces 2% of South Africa’s formal beef production,” the MEC explained.

EC NERPO representative, Nonqubeka Ngewu, said that her organisation felt encouraged after the meeting with Qoboshiyane.

“We believe that we can add value to our livestock to supply the international [beef] market. We are willing and motivated to upgrade both the quantity and quality of our livestock,” Ngewu said.

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Lloyd Phillips joined Farmer’s Weekly in January 2003 and is now a Senior Journalist with the publication. He spent most of his childhood on a Zululand sugarcane farm where he learned to speak fluent Zulu. After matriculating in 1993, Lloyd dreamed of working as a nature conservationist. Life’s vagaries, however, had different plans for him and Lloyd ended up sampling various jobs in South African agriculture before becoming a proud member of the Farmer’s Weekly team.