Stock farmers who work hard and smart weigh up rewards

The impressive results I saw on my visit to inspect the work of Bedford livestock farmers who received genetically superior bulls from our department, made me confident that we have what it takes to grow agriculture in the Eastern Cape, especially using land reform farms and land in villages.

MLIBO QOBOSHIYANE

In April 2015 genetically superior livestock was handed over to a number of black farmers in the province.

As the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform we invested more than R5.9-million in distributing about 1600 genetically improved livestock to the farmers as part of the Eastern Cape government’s livestock production improvement scheme.

To Bedford farmers in particular, we handed over 36 bulls and heifers.

These went to the Laphumi Khwezi, Mhlanga, Worteldrift multipurpose and Worteldrift Nguni cooperatives as part of the department’s effort to empower black people involved in agriculture with the resources they need for growth.

When I saw the quality of the progeny (calves) on my recent visit, they were of good quality.

I am confident they will fetch good prices on the markets because people are ready to buy quality livestock.

The farmers will sell their calves to abattoirs and in future may consider starting their own abattoir facility.

I was very happy to see hard and smart working farmers who have benefited from the land reform and livestock improvement programme producing these quality calves.

When I visited the area in 2015 local female farmers asked me to help improve the quality of their livestock and we then drafted them into the livestock improvement programme.

Laphumikhwezi Cooperative, which is owned by 10 women and one man, received two Beefmaster bulls from the department, which they mated with 52 heifers. These produced 43 calves ready for the market as weaners.

During our engagement a cooperative member Nonzwakazi Mpongoshe told me they did not get good money from the sale of the progeny of their previous bull.

But they worked hard and smart to mate their heifers with the new bulls and the results were the impressive progeny which they will sell at a good price.

An average calf with superior genetics for beef production sells for R6000.

Genetically superior beef bulls fetch in the order of R26000 and heifers around R8500.

Mpungoshe told me the money they make from the sale of their livestock is shared among cooperative members enabling them to provide for their families.

Such results prove that government programmes where we partner with farmers to help them improve their farming to succeed in commercial farming is working.

Mhlanga cooperative owner Thobekile Mhlanga, who farms goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, cattle, ducks and mohair goats, received four Beefmaster bulls from the department, said the bulls changed the quality of his livestock.

Mhlanga said the department’s intervention helped because the genetically superior bulls had improved the quality of their calves, of which they had bred 120.

Worteldrift cooperative received 20 pregnant heifers which gave them 19 calves.

For Bedford farmers alone the department spent about R546000 on buying sound Bonsmara, Beefmaster and Nguni bulls and heifers that gave the farmers good returns on their sales at local abattoirs, local monthly stock sales and other sales to local farmers.

We gave farmers a helping hand which they have used as a springboard towards business prosperity and success.

We also believe partnerships between black and white farmers in the province will help the province realise inclusive growth through the agricultural sector.

We are now finalising memorandums of understanding which we will sign with commercial commodity groups as part of commercialising agriculture in the province. It is important for us to tap into the agriculture endowments we have in the Eastern Cape such as its high livestock population which gives us a competitive edge.

The success of these farmers who work hard and smart work provides a lesson to those farmers who get land reform farms but do not use them productively,

The 29 bulls handed over to Bedford farmers are estimated to service 725 cows, to produce 652 calves of which 507 weaners will be marketed, weighing 40kg more than those of the previous poorer quality bulls.

This 40kg increase computes into an additional R609000 in income.

Based on the recent performance, the provision of 70 cows resulted in the sale of 49 weaners after the retention of replacement heifers. The 49 sold for R30 per kg realising a total of R323000.

The 15 bulls received at another project caused weaner weights to increase, realising an additional R315000 compared to what was obtained from poorer bulls.

The 20 heifers in-calf resulted in the sale of 14 weaners for a total of R92000.

At Laphumikwezi 34 weaners at 220kg are projected to realise R224000.

The 52 mated cows resulted in 46 calves and saw the sale of 36 weaners after retention of replacements, resulting in R240000 gross income.

At Worteldrift the 20 cows resulted in the sale of 14 weaners realising R92000.

The 155 goats we handed to two youth cooperatives – 150 ewes and five rams – resulted in the sale of 122 20kg weaners, each fetching R80000 with 26 kids kept for replacement.

These are the real economics of agriculture when ordinary farmers who, with the support of the government, are committed to making their farms work benefit. They reap the rewards of their commitment and hard work.

We will continue to invest in agriculture to benefit farmers committed to realising the bountiful opportunities and benefits this sector offers to those willing to work steadfastly and wisely.

Mlibo Qoboshiyane is MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform MEC and a member of the ANC PEC

By Mlibo Qoboshiyane – DispatchLIVE

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