COMMERCIALISATION OF THE EMERGING SECTOR
The small-scale and emerging sector consists of mostly semi-commercialised producers, subsistence farmers and households that have limited access to resources. This sector holds at least 40% of the livestock and could be developed to improve national food security. The ability of smallholder farmers to exploit the full potential of their livestock is limited by infrastructure, limitations in management, inadequate feed resources, and inadequate strategies for genetic improvement of their livestock and record-keeping. Farmer time is used ineffectively, and as a result many either remain trapped in unsustainable systems or they retrogress.
The current South African land reform policies promote disaggregation of land in order to attain the transformation mandates in land ownership. However, for the newly-established as well as existing smallholder farmers to be competitive in the mainstream markets, they require economies of scale to complement established commercial systems on equitable terms. About 4,9 million ha of land was acquired for agricultural purposes and settlement and the target for 2030 is to have at least 8,4 million ha transferred in order to improve food security. That land needs to be farmed in a sustainable manner.
This calls for the adaptation of farming systems and strategies using trans-disciplinary and participatory approaches to achieve Nation al Development Plan (NDP) goals.
Context of the emerging sector in South Africa
The geographical areas of focus for R&D are the formerly commercially farmed areas, or under-utilised land that was allocated to decongest communal areas that are now degraded and under-performing agriculturally. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is prioritising farmer support through infrastructure and service support together with partners like the Land Bank and other industry players. However, research remains the scope of industry and partners in development. The status quo on land utilisation is not fully understood and integration of farmers in the value chain is still limited to primary levels. Most of the areas are, however, in semi-arid environments and mostly suitable for grazing. There is a critical need to speed up the pace of transformation in the red meat industry to change lives for the better and assist businesses in the value chain.
Target goals in commercialisation
The target goals for commercialisation are as follows:
- To actively engage small-scale and emergent commercial farmers in technology-driven red meat production businesses
- To increase animal productivity and enterprise profitability through breeding and genetics and production system management
- To develop strength and resilience so that farmers become reliable market players
Cross-cutting research and development programmes
The cross-cutting issues, identified from programmes 1 to 6, are as follows:
- To improve efficiency of production systems
- To model projections of livestock business growth
- To develop and implement systems for rural disaster management (climate)
- Structured training and mentoring of livestock farmers in application of agriculture technology
- To initiate and implement online farmer register aligned to input and output markets and regulatory framework
- To support new business development aligned to technology-based agriculture