The African Farming (AF) information workshop for small-scale livestock farmers in Thaba Nchu was held on Wednesday (02/11). This event intended to shed light on how farmers can maximise their production, and thrive.
AF, a print, digital and television brand extension of the agricultural magazine Landbouweekblad, highlighted the sector’s role and that livestock farming remains the mainstay of South Africa.
Approximately 265 farmers from Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo attended the workshop aimed at empowering them with knowledge. Similar workshops were held in Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga during October.
Discussions revolved around how to enable emerging livestock farmers to optimise their trade in the following aspects:
- growing red meat exports to double the commercial price; and
- increasing livestock percentage from the 40% currently managed by black communal farmers.
Speakers addressed attendees about the various aspects affecting livestock, and placed strong emphasis on animal welfare.
Dr Faffa Malan, veterinarian, stressed that the implementation of biosecurity for the prevention of diseases and livestock death remained key.
“While knowledge is power, it needs action to make it meaningful. Without action, that knowledge is nothing,” believes Malan.
“Farmers must work together to tackle biosecurity challenges, because they affect everyone in the sector. They should know and share information about diseases, the vaccination of their livestock, and creating a healthy environment for their livestock to thrive.
“They must implement strong management programmes to guard against theft and deadly diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which has posed a serious challenge to the livestock industry.
“One farm that tests positive with FMD affects everyone in farming and results in a loss of income,” he said.
FMD symptoms include fever, mouth sores and a skin rash. It is a highly contagious viral disease among livestock, which has a significant economic impact. The disease affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed ruminants.
Malan encouraged farmers to establish quarantine camps for animals bought at auction, and to farm with what they can afford and are passionate about.
“Employing quarantine camps is a safe option, as they will help control the spread of the FMD. Animals brought from auctions must be quarantined for at least ten days, during which they must be assessed if they have symptoms of any disease.”
In his presentation during the workshop, Andries Strauss of the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (DRDAR) in the Free State stressed that knowledge of grazing land, as well as types of wool and the pricing thereof, influenced production and viability.
Apollo Bomvana of Landbouweekblad mentioned that attendance and farmers’ participation in the discussions exceeded all expectations.
“Arising from the workshop, a decision was taken to have follow-up sessions, as well as to provide basic capacity training and monitoring to all small-scale farmers in the region,” said Bomvana.
“Information workshops and training programmes are necessary to get emerging farmers back on track after the Covid-19 pandemic. What is encouraged, is that farmers unite to tackle challenges in order to become sustainable.”
Bomvana said the Red Meat Producers Organisation had come on board as a partner, and had pledged support in the form of rendering educational programmes to affiliated members.
He shared that he was even more positive about the outcomes of Wednesday’s event after receiving a pledge of support from tribal authorities such as Princess Gaboilelwe Moroka, newly coronated chief of Barolong boo Seleka in Thaba Nchu.