Speech by MEC Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba at Limpopo National Emergent Red Meat Producers Organisation (NERPO) Annual General Meeting, Oasis Lodge, Polokwane, Limpopo
15 May 2009Mr Programme Director
The Group Managing Director of National Emergent Red Meat Producers Organisation (NERPO)
Members of the NERPO Executive
Invited guests to this provincial congress
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me to express my gratitude for your warm welcome into the agricultural industry, especially your livestock sector that is a major contributor to Limpopo’s economy. Agriculture in the main has been identified as one of the major contributors of economic development in the Limpopo province. The provincial government takes stock of your sector through our Provincial Growth and Development Strategy. Major projects have been implemented in support of small-scale, emerging and commercial farmers in white and red meat cluster. These include among others the Blouberg Integrated Livestock Enterprise Cooperative, Integrated Poultry projects, Turfloop Aquaculture, and the Nguni Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) projects to mention a few.
From the above, we can easily see that we talking serious business, not unsustainable interventions. Agriculture is a serious and a risky business, you all know and have experienced some shocks so far.
The new government of the African National Congress has adopted a pro-poor policy shift to deal with the ills of poverty in the rural and peri-urban areas of the country and Limpopo in particular. Accelerating land reform, increasing the number of black entrepreneurs in agriculture, providing universal access to support services, increasing agricultural production (Ilima / Letsema) and increasing agricultural trade will continue to be the focus of the department in the quest to create jobs and improved incomes for our people.
The new philosophy of the strategic support to agricultural sector by the Limpopo Department of Agriculture is participatory and demand driven. This philosophy is supported by five key service delivery approaches, namely:
Mentorship and market development support have been identified as key to the growth of the livestock industry. The white meat and red meat clusters will continue to occupy the centre stage for economic empowerment in the province for a few years to come.
- Municipality focused
- Commodity based
- Value chain analysis
- Project based, and massification.
The rationale is to ensure sustainable and serious business entities that will be taken serious by the processors and consumers. The Integrated Poultry programme aims to establish over 50 poultry farmers in the province to anchor the white meat cluster over five years. This programme includes strategies to sustainably commercialise all flagship poultry projects at the same time. The red meat cluster encompasses livestock development within the value chain and based on national livestock improvement strategy. Both the Nguni project and goats’ projects are aimed at establishing red meat farmers and preparing them for sustainable supply of organic meat by 2010.
Programme Director, allow me to share with you some few areas in which the Limpopo Department of Agriculture has planned to implement within the red meat cluster. These areas will include aspects relating to human resource development as well as the research and technology development arena in your beloved industry.
Human resource development
The department has invested over R25 million since the year 2004/05 on the internship program. For the year 2009/10 the target of 251 interns will be appointed with a budget of over eight million. Over 174 animal science and 16 pasture science interns were trained and equipped with experience over the same period. The skills they acquired hopefully are contributing to the industry judged by the fact that over 131 out of the 251 interns did not complete the full program due to offers of employment while still on session. In order to mitigate against the nagging challenge of scarce skills especially in pasture science and veterinary practitioners the department invest on full bursaries for training in all national universities. The department invested over R20 million on external bursaries to 245 deserving learners who passed grade 12 since 2004. We expect to offer further bursaries to 34 learners this year. Limpopo Department of Agriculture (LDA) has since 2007 engaged universities in Cuba, Kenya and other countries to train veterinary practitioners due to the poor rate of throughput at the University of Pretoria.
Entrepreneurial development takes the shape of hands on training through a series of skills courses offered by the Agricultural Farmer Training Centres – Madzivhandila and Tompi Seleka. I am well briefed to the fact that you are using the Research and Development Stations Mara and Towoomba to your benefit to demonstrate, train and hold club meetings in these facilities. A series of adaptive research projects has been conducted in these centres to assist farmers in drought mitigation strategies.
I am pleased to announce that the department will start to engage in Site Specific Drought Mapping studies as part of an early warning system to farmers. This coupled with drought feeding scheme will go a long way to alleviate the economic losses due to mortality and markets. The breed survey pilot study in Mopani on indigenous livestock was completed.
The business plan on the roll out of the survey to other district will continue in this financial year 2009 /10. Resources from the national Department of Agriculture will determine how many districts will be part of the survey.
Current capacity of the department
The current capacity to support the sector in terms of our organo- gram stands at 41 animal scientists’ posts with 28 posts filled. We also have 72 agricultural technicians’ posts with 56 of those filled. With the ushering in of the new executive the target will be to recruit competent individuals to fill the 13 and 16 vacant posts with animal scientists and technicians, respectively. Our capacity is enhanced by the cadre of researchers based at Mara, Madzivhandila and Towoomba. A total of 14 researchers and 8 research technicians complement the work being done in the different local municipalities. The research team is lead by a research manager and three specialist researchers. You will be interested to know that five officers of this team hold a qualification at master’s degree.
Conservation of animal genetic resources
Preservation, maintenance and promotion of indigenous breeds have been the flagship of the department and the province for a long time now. Mara Research and Development Centre has been ear-marked as a centre for animal genetic conservation. The three Limpopo Nguni eco-types are now housed as Mara for the purposes of conservation. I appeal to you as a sector and organisation to do everything in your power to collaborate with government in conserving this national heritage even within your own enterprises.
In a similar fashion the Bapedi sheep as a breed has to be conserved and promoted for its value in the market so that our farmers can move form the periphery of the livestock sector to the mainstream.
My department will invest in providing about 200 cows and 100 bulls to farmers through auctions and the Nguni IDC Scheme to improve farmer’s genetic resources and competitiveness.
Our collaboration with Limpopo University and the Independent Development Corporation (IDC) on the Nguni Cattle Project has finally delivered. We are also happy to announce that we are the first in South Africa to register a Nguni stud under these conditions.
Our name is Thabakgone Nguni Stud and we will be known world-wide as such. This will keep and increase value of all Nguni cattle we will breed under the scheme and our Nguni cattle owners can be proud that traceability will never be their concern when selling the animals in future.
We have distributed over 460 Nguni cattle worth R3.4million in the previous year. These cattle went to farming groups at 1) Kwa- Maquze in Moutse; 2) Dithamaga in Greater Tubatse; 3) Maboi-3 Community and Monyane CPA in Polokwane Municipality; and 4) Mmarobala-O-Itsoše and Makgato CPAs in Molemole Municipality. For the 2008/09 the department has distributed over R310 000 worth of Nguni cattle to three individual farmers and one Community Farming project of Ga-Kgoš Kibi. Each project will receive 30-herd- of cattle to ensure critical mass production within a five year cycle. This is a loan scheme and is commonly known as Dikgomo- Tša-Mafiša.
This project is being run by an Nguni Cattle Trust of which the LDA, IDC and Limpopo University are trustees. The IDC has invested about R2.5 million to date. The Limpopo University provides the holding and inspection pens before cattle are moved to target clients and the LDA has invested over R5 million in infrastructure since the project started in 2006.
The department has finalised the process to interview new farmers for settlement and provision of the Nguni Cattle March 2009. The target was for Eastern Cluster, which is Vhembe and Mopai Districts.
The department needs your cooperation to initiate new performance testing farms for phase D in order to efficiently and effectively test your young bulls for fit of purpose. I am reliably informed that with the Nguni cattle we own in Limpopo are one of the best you can have in terms of fit for the beef market in the country and yet less costly due to its disease and pest tolerant attributes.
The same has happened with Bapedi Sheep. We are proud again to announce that the department has assisted 85 Bapedi Sheep farmers in Sekhukhune, Fetakgomo Municipality to become a Sheep Club and they will soon be registered as members of the Bapedi Sheep Breeders Association.
The objective again is to preserve genetic material in the hands of black farmers so they can gainfully participate in the value chain of livestock industry. Awareness programme will be underway before end on September in other targeted parts of the province for farmers to get involved with sheep farming.
Program Director, I know that the biggest question in the minds of you as agricultural entrepreneur is the extent in which government will go to support you in disaster management. Our plan is to strengthen our Early Warning Information and Advisory Services, while ensuring ensure that our disaster management strategies and policies are in place for effective disaster mitigation.
For the year 2008/09 the department spent R13 330 096.00 on drought feeding of 239 110 animals under the ownership of 35 218 small-scale farmers and 719 commercial farmers. Over 890 tons of fodder was provided to 160 farmers with a total of 12204 animals to veld fire disaster areas. To mitigate against water scarcity the department worked on providing 10 earth dams, 131 boreholes equipped with windmills, 10 000l tanks and drinking troughs.
The department will continue to have an effective recovery and rehabilitation plan to ensure quick recovery after disasters.
Programme Director as you may well know Limpopo shares boundaries with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The ushering in of the Trans-frontier Conservation Park has implications for livestock farming in the Vhembe and Mopani District. The capacity to respond to disease outbreak and the strategies for prevention will be key for export and international markets for beef farmers.
Our targets for 2009/10 is that we will have enough resources to vaccinate 76 000 animals for foot-and-mouth, 50 000 for brucellosis, 120 000 for rabies, 420 000 for anthrax and black quarter. This will be on and above the regular fencing for bio-security and disease control, animal dipping for small-scale farmers and infrastructure support.
With the exception of the emerging and commercial Livestock farmers, the majority are small-scale farmers with a labour force averaging two to three adults’ equivalents. The emerging livestock farmers in the main would like to be integrated to the market economy. The one way of doing so is through mentorship program where the mentor and the protégé work closely to access the markets by enhancing the production practices throughout the value chain. The integration partly depends on the agro-ecological areas and the infrastructure. Some areas will have higher degree of integration due to geophysical attributes such as rainfall and soils for crop-livestock systems. Other may lack these attributes but compensate by their proximity to markets. LDA’s contribution for 2009/10 will be an initial investment of R60 000 to mentor 20 farms mostly the land redistribution beneficiaries.
AgriBEE is the agricultural industry’s empowerment framework. It operates on a will seller-willing buyer basis. It also operates on the basis of normal business ethics and personal choices and opportunities. The department has empowered tomato growers, black tea growers, broiler farmers, fresh produce farmers and crop farmers through various intervention strategies. These are practical interventions that our farmers are proud of.
The department will all is possible to empower red meat producers throughout the value chain including owning cold storage facilities, butcheries and retail outlets in targeted markets. NERPO must consider establishing its own meat brand once farmers have critical mass of livestock and abattoirs to add value to their cattle.
I would like to wish the provincial general meeting well in the future activities of the sector in Limpopo. I am expecting further and future engagements with tangible project proposals from NERPO executive on how you can contribute to the strategic direction of the Limpopo Department of Agriculture’ Red Meat Cluster.
I thank you, Pula!!
Source: Limpopo Department of Agriculture
Issued by: Limpopo Agriculture
15 May 2009
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