Speech for the Animal Healthcare launch by MEC For Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development, Mrs Lydia Johnson at Muden
26 Mar 2011Programme director
Livestock Associations Present
Ladies and gentleman,
Livestock animals are a great economic asset in our lives as they are sign of wealth of a person or individuals in a communal settlement. We know that homesteads in our rural areas are characterised by kraals which keep our sheep, goats and cows safe. These animals are often used as a yardstick upon which a man’s wealth is always measured in our communities. So, a man with a large kraal is considered rich and earns a lot of respect amongst from people.
Ladies and gentlemen we know that it takes a lot of hard work to look after our livestock and increase the capacity of our kraals. There are numerous aspects involved, like the animal healthcare, making sure that your animals have no ticks, dipping and vaccinating them for various diseases. Animal healthcare is the backbone of livestock production, because failing to master it will not make anyone sustainable in the field.
I am sure that you are all aware that we are dealing with the challenge of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in Umkhanyakude district which has severe implications for our economy and trade business. The department is addressing the challenge in that area as we have a team of veterinary doctors from the national and provincial departments who are working with farmers on the ground to contain the spread of the disease.
This anecdote serves as a warning to all farmers in KwaZulu-Natal to be always cautious about the health of their animals. We still emphasise on the importance of dip tanks and they role they play in ensuring that animals are given the optimum amount of care and treatment that is beneficial to their health.
Ticks continue to be one of the most harmful livestock pests in our country. As a province we have embarked on a programme of rehabilitating all are dip tanks because we want to make sure that they can respond to the challenge of ticks.
The Provincial Executive Council better known as Cabinet has approved an ambitious and far-reaching strategy to improve live stock in the province. The focus of the strategy is to increase the working knowledge of subsistence and emerging commercial farmers on animal husbandry and improve the health of livestock, reducing diseases and mortality and build on the existing asset base of livestock farmers.
Subsistence farmers hold over 1,5 million cattle which is 55% of the provincial beef herd and 74% of the goat stock. Inadequate veterinary services and derelict infrastructure resulting in fewer and poorer quality animals and lack of market access are the main reasons why the value of these assets has not been fully realised for the benefit of the owner farmers and the provincial economy in general. This is now set to change. KwaZulu-Natal plans to exceed the 20% of national beef herd and 14% of the national goat herd which it currently contributes to the red meat industry.
The department’s intention is to provide funds or make funds available to continue providing dipping material, vaccines and drugs for Primary Animal Health Care that will keep the animals healthy so that in turn when you sell some you can earn more income.
Last year the department embarked on a roadshow to meet stakeholders in various districts. Our intention was to meet our local farmers in their areas, talk to them about their livelihoods and share information. We wanted to learn about what challenges they are facing on the ground and still be able to make our own assessment. We attended livestock shows where we got to assess the difficulties that livestock farmers face every day and then collectively engaged in finding solutions.
The main challenges that are almost common for many communal livestock farmers are:
- Insufficient knowledge of sound animal husbandry practices.
- Insufficient marketing infrastructure, facilities, systems sale yards and abattoirs.
- Insufficient animal handling facilities and overnight/kraaling facilities
- Lack of and fencing of grazing fields
- Lack water and dams
- Stock theft
- Winter feeding and poor nutritional status in winter
These issues were highlighted at KwaMashabane in Jozini during their livestock show and at Somsuku in Ladysmith where we launched the goat project. The department made a solemn promise to prioritise the livestock industry by dealing with the challenges.
We were already hard at work though dealing with the dip tank rehabilitation in many communities across the province. That is a commitment we undertook during our budget speech last year which I’m happy to see that today is being fulfilled. We have rehabilitated more than 11 dip tanks in this area of Muden and farmers will now have improved dipping services going forward.
I strongly encourage farmers to align themselves with livestock associations so we can work in an organised manner with you. Institutional building of livestock associations is one of the current programmes of the department and some of the associations are following the cooperative route. The building bricks of the livestock associations are dip tank committees, representing the livestock farmers associated with a specific dip tank
I wish to urge all local farmers to work very closely with the department in advancing the livestock profile of KwaZulu-Natal. Let us please share information and seize opportunities that are meant to capacitate your knowledge and capacity so that you can become fully fledged commercial farmers of tomorrow. The new livestock strategy will introduce a holistic approach for livestock development in the province so get yourselves acquainted with its programmes.
I thank you.
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture, Enviromental Affairs and Rural Development
26 Mar 2011
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