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«FAO ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND HEALTH paper ADDING VALUE TO LIVESTOCK DIVERSITY Marketing to promote local breeds and improve livelihoods Cover ...»

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From unshorn sheep to finished poncho takes 350 hours in all. Different people may do different steps, or the same family may do them all. Women handle all of the steps, except the shearing, which is generally done by men.


The craftswomen act as salespersons in the Dina Huapi store. On weekdays, it is the women from Dina Huapi itself who do the selling. At weekends, two or three members from outlying villages come into the town to act as sales staff. They sleep in a dormitory on the second floor of the shop, and spend the day serving customers and maintaining and cleaning the store. They sell the products of all the Mercado members, not just their own.

Most of the buyers are Argentinean and Chilean tourists looking for crafts typical from Patagonia, though increasing numbers of foreign visitors have started visiting the Mercado.

This interaction is enriching for both craftswomen and customers. The craftswomen learn their customers’ tastes and become familiar with the market demand. They also gain Adding value to livestock diversity

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in skills and confidence, and learn to appreciate their traditional culture because they see that outsiders value it. The customers in turn appreciate meeting the people who have actually made the things they are buying.

Most of the Mercado’s products are sold in the shop. The craftswomen themselves set the prices for the items they have made. Each item is labelled with the maker’s name so she can be paid when it is sold. When setting the price, some check similar products that are for sale in the shop, while others calculate their costs and the amount of time it has taken to produce the item. The time and effort can be considerable: 6.5 kg of fleece worth 50 pesos converts into 4 kg of wool (worth 360 pesos), which in turn becomes a poncho that sells for 2 500 pesos. The Mercado keeps 10% of the sale price to cover its expenses.

PROMOTION There has been very little promotion of the shop or its products, except through word of mouth in Dina Huapi and Bariloche. This was a deliberate strategy to begin with because only a few items were available and the craftswomen were afraid they would not be able to supply a big demand. More recently, however, volumes have grown as more craftswomen have joined the Mercado and the range of products has increased. The Mercado has printed publicity flyers and brochures and created a website (www.mercadodelaestepa.

com.ar) to advertise the products. The Mercado also participates in fairs and other local, regional and national exhibitions in order to promote the products and to even out sales, which fluctuate seasonally along with the numbers of tourists in Dina Huapi. As a result, sales have risen steadily, by 30–40% a year.

Several other shops sell ponchos and other handicrafts, but they are not the same as those sold in the Mercado. The Mercado stress the origin of its products, their quality and the links with their makers, and its operation on fair-trade principles.

PART 1: Wool and cashmere 57


Very few Linca animals but increasing sales: that meant a shortage of wool for the craftswomen to turn into ponchos and other products. At the same time, some producers could not sell their Linca wool, as mainstream buyers want only fine, white Merino wool. Naturally coloured, coarse wool fetched low prices from such buyers.

So in 2005, the Mercado created a “wool bank” where craftswomen could buy Linca wool. They could pay for this raw material in cash, or in kind by returning spun wool or finished goods to the Mercado for sale. The wool bank also lent out spinning wheels and drum carders to craftswomen: they could take turns in borrowing this equipment. Demand has been high: the wool bank does not have enough equipment to supply everyone’s needs.

As part of the process of forming the wool bank, the team held training workshops so craftswomen could identify which types of fleece were best for the products. Many complained it was hard to find the pure Linca wool their ancestors had used. So Surcos Patagónicos and INTA have begun to search for purebred animals and analyse their genetics in order to identify them more reliably.


In addition to the team of INTA, the Programa Social Agropecuario and Surcos Patagónicos, various other organizations have contributed to the development of the Mercado.

The Ministry of Social Development and the Ashoka, AVINA and Nuria foundations have provided financial support. Support from the local authority in Dina Huapi and various local municipalities where Mercado members live has also been vital.


The Mercado has substantially increased the income of its members’ families. They have benefited in many other ways too: they are coming to value their own culture, relearn forgotten skills and develop new ones, and learn how to work together in a collaborative networking effort. They have gained visibility and respect in society for their families and their culture.

However, incomes are still low and sales are uneven throughout the year, as they are concentrated in the tourist season.

In terms of production, there are several constraints. One is a lack of equipment; this is being gradually overcome through projects that buy spinning wheels and drum carders.

The main bottleneck is the lack of Linca wool. The wool bank has made a major positive impact: producers who would otherwise throw worthless fleeces away can now sell them to the wool bank for around 50 pesos each.

In the longer term, the only way to increase the supply of wool is to expand the numbers of Linca sheep. Thanks to the presence of a profitable market, this is now a possibility.

Developing a market for handicrafts based on the local culture has created an opportunity to rescue and conserve the Linca breed.


Surcos Patagónicos: www.mercadodelaestepa.com.ar PART 2

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Introduction As incomes rise, so does demand for meat. In developing countries, rising purchasing power, increasing urbanization and changing consumer preferences are all creating greater demand for meat; FAO predicts that per capita meat consumption in the developing world will rise by 1.2% per year between 1991 and 2030 – a rise of nearly 45% in all. Meat production will rise faster, by 1.7% a year, more than doubling by 2030 (FAO 2007, p. 141–5).

But much of this demand is supplied by large-scale producers who raise genetically uniform animals under intensive conditions, often indoors. How can small-scale producers with a few animals compete?

One possibility is to differentiate their product in terms of quality. This section describes

two initiatives that attempt to do this:

Umzimvubu Goats: Adding value to an under-utilized indigenous resource in South Africa Marketing Criollo goat meat under a Protected Designation of Origin seal in Argentina.

The South Africa case describes a government-led initiative to generate income for farmers in a disadvantaged part of the country. It involved a major investment in infrastructure (an abattoir, tannery and restaurant), research, training, extension activities and institutional development, as well as developing new products (leather handicrafts, meat cuts and sausages) and market linkages.

The Argentina case required much less investment as the basic infrastructure (an abattoir) already existed. The focus has instead been on obtaining a protected designation of origin seal for an existing product (goat meat) to differentiate it in the market and enable producers and processors to charge higher prices.

Hides are a natural by-product of meat production. They can be tanned and made into a wide variety of products. Many local breeds have hides with attractive or unusual colours and patterns, making them ideal for the production of distinctive leather handicrafts.

Both of these cases refer to goats. While this species is relatively unimportant in the developed world, it is one of the “big five” livestock species worldwide (the others are cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens). Goats are especially important for small-scale livestock keepers and pastoralists because they are hardy, can thrive on a variety of vegetation, produce both meat and milk, and can be quickly turned into cash: if a livestock keeper needs to pay school fees, it is easier to sell a goat or two to pay for school fees than to part with a cow or camel.

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Umzimvubu Goats: Adding value to an under-utilized indigenous resource in South Africa Merida Roets, Zama Mandisi Madikizela and Mpho Mazubane Alfred Nzo district certainly is beautiful. Unlike much of arid South Africa, ample rainfall means it is green. Rivers that rise in the dramatic escarpment of the Drakensberg mountains to the north carve deep valleys as they flow down to the Indian Ocean. Indigenous aloes grow 3 metres tall, with heads of spiny leaves and spiked crowns of bright orange flowers.

Surrounded by this beauty it is easy to forget that Alfred Nzo is one of the poorest districts in the Eastern Cape province, and this province is among the poorest in South Africa. Part of the independent Bantustan of Transkei, the district was neglected by the central government until reunification with the rest of South Africa in 1994. There is little employment except in subsistence agriculture, so many of the districts’ men have left to work in South Africa’s cities and mines, leaving women and children to run the farms. Many residents depend on remittances from the men and on government support.

So is the district doomed to remain picturesque but poor? Not if it can take advantage of one of its key resources – its local breed of goats. Alfred Nzo district is home to some 300 000 indigenous goats, the largest such population in South Africa. A typical local household keeps perhaps 15–20 goats, along with 10 cattle, 10 sheep and 20 chickens.

The goats are medium-sized and multicoloured (more of that later). Most land in the district is under the custodianship of tribal authorities and is grazed communally.


“Chevon” is goat meat, just as “beef” is cow meat, and “pork” comes from pigs. It is a speciality of the restaurant for visitors at Umzimvubu Goats, a production and processing facility in the town of Mount Ayliff, the capital of the Alfred Nzo district. When they have finished their meal, visitors can stroll through the leather crafting workshop and buy attractive cushions in the adjoining shop. The cushions come in natural brown and white hair-off or hair-on leather, or are dyed various colours: bright blue, green or red. The craft shop has a range of other goat-leather products too: handbags, purses, sandals, shoes, key chains, belts and wall hangings.

The process of turning a goat into steaks, salami and sandals begins with the goatbreeders. Over 3 000 breeders in the surrounding area, organized into six regional cooperatives, raise goats under contract with Umzimvubu Goats. A typical producer with 20 goats can sell perhaps 15 kids a year to Umzimvubu Goats. The producer delivers the animals to the regional cooperative, where a vehicle picks them up according to a predetermined Adding value to livestock diversity

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collection schedule. They are offloaded at the processing plant, weighed and recorded. The breeder is then paid directly into his or her bank account, and the regional cooperative is paid a percentage of the price as a handling fee.

The processing plant keeps enough goats in the feedlot on site for 2 weeks’ worth of production. From there, they go into the abattoir, which can handle up to 40 animals a day.

The goats are slaughtered using certified halaal techniques: the biggest market is South Africa’s large Muslim population.

The carcases go into a meat processing plant where various cuts, as well as ground (minced) meat, patties (burgers), sausages and salami are prepared, spiced, vacuum packed and labelled. The meat is stored in a cold storage room until it can be taken to retailers or served to visitors in the on-site restaurant.

The hides go to a tannery next door, where they are processed into hair-on and hair-off leather. The tannery also buys skins of animals slaughtered elsewhere, and can handle the skins of small game animals on commission.

Eight cooperatives of local artisans, associated with the six regional goat-raising cooperatives, work the leather into cushion covers and many other products. These products can be bought from the leather-craft shop on-site, or through various craft outlets in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Stellenbosch. Umzimvubu Goats products have also become a regular feature at the Grahamstown National Arts festival every year.

PART 2: Meat and hides 65 FIGURE 17 Hides from the local goats are turned into shoes, bags, cushion covers and other handicrafts

The value chain from farmers to consumers is supported by various service providers:

public and private donors and funders; the district municipality; the extension and public health divisions of the Department of Agriculture; providers of feeds, pharmaceuticals, and training; bankers, and legal and business experts.

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The idea of developing Umzimvubu Goats came from an Agricultural Research Council exhibit at the South African Parliament in 1999. When he viewed the exhibit, Geoff Doidge, a Member of Parliament from nearby Kokstad, realized the potential for a goat processing industry in the Eastern Cape. His idea was to build a facility that would bring together small-scale farm cooperatives, slaughtering, processing and manufacturing in the Alfred Nzo district.

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