Zimbabwean farm invaders let animals starve

Two of Zimbabwe’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ZNSPCA) inspectors have been deployed to camp on the farm Friedawell near Chinhoyi, about 100km north of Harare.

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Two of Zimbabwe’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ZNSPCA) inspectors have been deployed to camp on the farm Friedawell near Chinhoyi, about 100km north of Harare.This follows recent reports of intense and ongoing animal cruelty including a case of more than 4 000 pigs that were left to die of starvation, after the violent invasion of a farm owned by former South African farmer Louis Fick.

Fick is one of Zimbabwe’s remaining productive white farmers who is under immense pressure to abandon his home and business.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to a Southern Development Community (SADC) treaty which established a tribunal, based in Namibia, for citizens of member states to access if all domestic remedies have been exhausted. According to VOANews.com, the farm is one of more than 70 that is protected by an interim order from the tribunal. Despite this, employees of Edwin Mashiringwani, a deputy governor of Zimbabwe’s reserve bank, took over.

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The website reported that Fick said that his workers had been chased away and Mashiringwani’s employees refused to feed the more than 4 000 pigs, 15 000 crocodiles and several hundred beef cattle.

Fick called the ZNSPCA, but Mashiringwani’s employees allegedly did not allow their officials onto the farm to inspect or feed the animals. The SPCA declined to comment on reports that 30 sows had died of dehydration and that others had been driven crazy by a lack of food and water, and were eating their piglets.

The ZNSPCA reported that two inspectors were camped outside at the farm to ensure that the animals were fed on daily basis. – Peter Mashala

World on the verge of a livestock revolution

technology will see a number of interesting changes in the livestock industry over the next few years. If the industry declines, early maturing breeds and some of the synthetic breeds, as well as crossbreeding with early maturing breeds, will
play a more prominent role in the meat industry.

This will lead to a decline in the total number of animals in order to prevent overgrazing, which can result in an increase in imports from neighbouring countries and especially Brazil, where production costs are lower.

This is according to Free State University’s Prof Frikkie Neser, who delivered his inaugural lecture there on the subject. Prof Neser focused on the future of animal breeding in the next few decades. He said that the world, especially SA, stands on
the verge of a revolution in the agricultural sector as the whole production scenario
 would probably change.

“Increasing fuel prices opened the door for the production of biofuel,” said Prof Neser. “The fuel industry is in direct competition with humans and the livestock industry, which has resulted in unbelievably high prices for maize, sunflower and soya. These prices can further increase with the worldwide food shortages.”He said that more profitable livestock breeds could take the place of existing breeds because of the rise in input costs.

Selection for more effective, not maximum, production will became more important. There are also indications of pressure on feedlots. If the industry downsizes, it could lead to a total turnaround as feedlots prefer later-maturing animals that can
put on a lot of weight before fat is laid down.“One way to increase the profitability of meat production is to utilise niche markets,” said Prof Neser. “There is a worldwide shift to more natural products such as grass-fed beef.

According to research it’s healthier than meat from feedlots, and usually free of hormones and antibiotics. If factors such as traceability are put in place it could become a very profitable niche market for the SA meat industry.Prof Neser said that in order for breeding societies to survive they would need to increase their membership and the number of animals being registered.

This can be done by replacing the word “stud” with recorded animals, opening the door for excellent commercial animals to become part of the seed-stock industry. Another benefit is that more information will become available, especially for the
smaller breeds, resulting in more accurate breeding values. – Staff reporter

Rising food costs call for policy shift

There’s no need for Africa to be a food importer. So said Benedicte Vibe Christensen, the acting director for at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaking at the IMF’s recent visit to to present its regional economic outlook.

While it predicted growth of 6,5% for sub-Saharan this year, mostly fuelled by the oil exporters Nigeria and Angola, SA’s growth is expected to be below 4%, mainly due to the electricity crisis. With Africa being hit particularly hard by rising food prices, Christensen called for short-term solutions such as temporary and targeted subsidies on basic food products.

“Price controls tend to hurt domestic farmers, while export controls are significantly aggravating the problem of world supply,” said Christensen. The IMF said agricultural production had been neglected in certain African states for too long. The focus should shift to increasing agricultural production and changing policies, such as fertiliser subsidies. Christensen also called for improved infrastructure and lending facilities in rural areas.

“The result would not only mean better food production, but also an extension of the anti-poverty campaign beyond urban centres,” said Christensen. “Improving the agricultural sector requires investors and policies.”

The United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon recently said that the rate at which staple costs have increased threatens to erase seven years’ worth of progress on halving poverty by 2015.The IMF said it would assist countries that had experienced significant price increases in oil and food. – David Steynberg

Beijing congress positive

Reporting back after the 2008 International Wool and Textile Organisation’s congress in Beijing, Petrus de Wet, president of the National Growers Association (NWGA), said wool had a big role to play supplying the new demand for environmentally and animal friendly products.“could find its way back into the market as a fire-resistant material in high-rise buildings, as well as in aeroplanes and motor cars,” added De Wet.

The US Institute of Cashmere and Wool has successfully introduced legislation in that country to protect quality brands of wool garments. Similar legislation is planned for the EU and the international wool textile organisation (IWTO).

SA’s delegation at the congress represented the National Growers Association (NWGA), Cape Wools, the Wool and Mohair Buyers (SAWAMBA), the Testing Bureau (WTB) and brokers. De Wet believed the delegation could deal with all enquiries.“And at IWTO gatherings a healthy and open relationship developed between the NWGA, Producers and the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) in Australia,” said De Wet. He was impressed with AWI’s business approach to the worldwide promotion of wool. “will definitely reap the benefits from these actions, and will contribute to this drive through a 10c/kg contribution agreement we have with SAWAMBA.”

On the mulesing debate, De Wet said producers should tackle tail docking, castration and other painful procedures before they also become issues in the wool industry. – Roelof Bezuidenhout

SA is running out of apple and pear trees

Nurseries can’t grow enoughtrees to satisfy local and international demand for fruit, according to Charles Hughes, CEO of Tru-Cape.

The apple and pear industry is experiencing a good phase and farmers want to expand. However, tree shortages are holding back   the necessary production expansion projects and local supermarkets are 30% short on their fruit requirements.
“In the next 20 years will not be able to export as the new South African middle class will use up all the production,” said Hughes.

“The problem originated in part in 2001 when the apple and pear industry had its back against the wall. Nurseries destroyed a large number of trees as there was no demand for them and maintaining them wasn’t economically viable. Now producers can only get 65% to 70% of the trees they need.”

“Current demand for trees is exceeding supply,” said Frederik Voigt, business unit manager for production at the South African Plant Improvement Organisation (SAPO).
The experts say stone-fruit tree shortages can in part be ascribed to the sudden heatwave experienced in the Western Cape in January and February. It coincided with a vulnerable stage in the propagation process and many young trees died. Voigt explained that nurseries need a one- to two-year lead time to get ready for producers, and farmers haven’t ordered trees in advance. new system is being implemented where producers will have to order trees through SAPO.

“This should lessen speculation in the market and bring supply and demand in line with one another,” said Voigt. – Wouter Kriel

Fine adults spoil the market for young goats

The latest mohair sale will be remembered for the huge price variation based on fineness, specifically in the young-goat group of mohair, according to Pierre van der Vyver, general manager for mohair at Cape Mohair and Wool (CMW).

“The stronger young goats lost all the positive momentum of the previous sale,” he said. “The adult- and kid-mohair market was fairly stable, considering the rand/dollar exchange rate worked against the sale by more than 3%.“On the positive side the CMW binning department established another new national price record when their top bale of EGT-tested young goats, presented as 26 micron winter kids, sold for R295/kg.” Johan Bezuidenhout achieved an excellent price of R320/kg for a bale of Camdeboo kid mohair.

Van der Vyver believes the next sale will be a small, high quality sale, negating the lower price movements on condition that there are no major exchange rate developments.“The basic demand for all types of mohair remains good,” said Van der Vyver. “The temporarily oversupply of stronger young goat hair is the only negative. It’s caused by the abnormal quantities of adult mohair qualifying in that micron range, as a result of the drought of the past season.” Mohair South Africa says that although the results of this sale, the fifth for the summer season, were slightly down, the overall results are still positive as the quality of hair available was not comparable to that of the previous sale.

Competition for kid hair was once again very good with a highest price of R330/kg paid for a bale of above-average 25 micron summer kid mohair. The demand for young goat’s hair was slightly disappointing and negatively influenced the overall sale’s clearance of 88%. The overall market indicator decreased by 3,8% from the previous sale to close at R75,04.

Compared to the previous sale the prices were as follows: kid hair decreased by 5%; young goat decreased by 3%; fine adult decreased by 4%; and strong adult fell by 2%. – Roelof Bezuidenhout