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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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In 2000, a series of demonstrations of goat production and products was held at several villages in the area, organized by the local branch of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). Numerous goat farmers in the area supported the idea of establishing a processing plant. Consultations by the district administration with local people also showed goats were a priority, so the district municipality quickly took ownership of the project concept and helped design a funding proposal to submit to the national government, which provided funding through its Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme. The district municipality managed disbursements through its Local Economic Development Programme. So the project was supported at three levels: grassroots, local government and national government.

The National Department of Agriculture also took up the idea. The Agricultural Research Council was commissioned to conduct research into how farmers can use their goats, and their knowledge about goat-raising, to generate income and develop the local economy.

That was followed by a full market survey. Focus groups tasted chevon products and gave their opinions about various leather products. An in-depth study in the country’s biggest cities tested consumer awareness of the products and introduced them to the public. The study found that a number of products could be developed from goats and the whole process could be commercialized.

Poultry, beef, mutton and pork are regarded as commodities in South Africa, and their prices can be followed in the agricultural media. But goat meat is not an established commodity, so does not follow such formalized marketing channels. That means that goat items can be successfully marketed only as niche products.


The research showed that there was indeed a potential market for chevon and for goatleather products. It was time to develop the project in earnest. The project consisted of four elements: infrastructure development, institutional development, social facilitation, and technology transfer and training.

Infrastructure Building the processing facility in Mount Ayliff began in 2003 and cost R10 million (around $1.3 million). The construction was managed by the Consulting Engineering division of Scientific Roets, a private company based in Kokstad that specializes in development activities.

That included the construction of holding pens, the abattoir, the processing plant, tannery, an administration building, the restaurant and retail outlet, craft production units, as well as an infirmary to deal with sick animals, stores for feed, equipment and medicines, an PART 2: Meat and hides 67 effluent treatment plant, washing facilities and security housing. Craft production units, goat-handling facilities and training venues were also built in nearby villages. The processing plant was officially opened in 2005 by Mrs Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs.

Institutional development All this infrastructure is designed for specific products and depends on a reliable supply of live goats to keep it running and profitable. Ensuring such a supply meant it was necessary to work closely with the area’s goat producers. The solution was to organize a series of cooperatives, linked to Umzimvubu Goats through contracts specifying the responsibilities of each party. Scientific Roets set up these institutional arrangements.

The central institution is Umzimvubu Goats itself. This is a private company, 95% of which is owned by the district municipality and the remaining 5% by a central cooperative,

which has the regional cooperatives as members. The company has two main functions:

running the processing and marketing facility, and promoting goat farming in the area. It helps organize the regional cooperatives and will buy all the goats they produce that meet the required standards. It advises and trains the producers on how to manage, breed and care for goats to meet these standards. It provides these services to the regional cooperatives on payment of a membership fee. Umzimvubu Goats holds shares of its member regional cooperatives in trust. It pays them a dividend out of its profits, as well as an annual bonus if the member cooperatives reach their production targets.

The company employs 48 staff, including managers, extension officers, slaughterers, meat processors, leather tanners and restaurant personnel.

The central cooperative, as the implementing partner of the company, is managed by a board of nine directors representing each of the member regional cooperatives, plus the District Municipality, the Department of Agriculture, Veterinary Public Health and specialist expertise as required.

The six regional cooperatives coordinate the production of goats by their members.

They plan when members will deliver animals to a collection point and arrange for the central cooperative to transport them to the abattoir. They ensure that the supply of animals is consistent and good quality, and that each animal can be traced back to its owner (this is done through a system of ear tags and branding).

Each regional cooperative is legally registered and has its own board of directors. Its members are farmers who live in the villages it serves: between 300 and 750 farmers per cooperative, from 7–15 villages. The individual members pay a fee to join the cooperative;

this was introduced by the cooperatives themselves to ensure that the members are committed to the venture.

Each year, each individual producer has to estimate how many goats he or she will deliver, on which dates – and then actually deliver the number pledged. The goats must be of the quality specified in the contract-producers’ manual, and the producer must keep adequate records for each animal.

The leather workers receive leather and leather-craft materials from the central facility and make the items to specifications. They return them to the central shop and are paid for their work on each item.

Adding value to livestock diversity Social facilitation How were these organizations established? The district municipality contracted Scientific Roets to facilitate the process, which followed 13 steps outlined in a manual developed by Scientific Roets (Roets, 2004a). This company organized campaigns at churches, youth groups and farmers’ associations to raise awareness about goat production and marketing, and to start forming interest groups. It then trained the groups how to set up their own cooperative, design a constitution, draw up a business plan, elect leaders and eventually register the cooperative. Once they were registered, Umzimvubu Goats offered the cooperatives a contract growers’ agreement. The new cooperatives had to open a bank account and register a branding mark for their members’ animals before they could start producing goats under the contract agreement.

Technology transfer and training What technologies should the various actors in the chain use: the goat-raisers, abattoir, meat processing plant, tannery, and the artisans who make the craft products? Several studies were conducted at the Agricultural Research Council on goat nutrition and management as well as the qualities and processability of chevon and goatskin. Meat and leather product ranges were developed based on the results of these analyses (Roets, 2004c), and their market potential was investigated.

Selecting technologies is one thing: training people how to use them is another. Various groups had to be trained: the staff of the processing facility, extension workers, the cooperative boards, the leather crafters and the goat producers.

Company staff. Training in new technology was accompanied by upgrading the business skills of staff who work at the central facility, cooperative training and manual development. For example, 15 abattoir personnel were trained in animal slaughter and meat processing at the Meat Industry Centre of the Irene Animal Nutrition and Products Institute of the Agricultural Research Council. Three tannery staff were trained in tanning techniques at the International School of Tanning Technology in Grahamstown. The restaurant staff were trained in food preparation and handling.

Extension workers. The provincial Department of Agriculture initially pledged support from its extension officers to support the farmer training drive. Scientific Roets trained 25 of these staff in the project concept, goat management practices, value-adding opportunities, and farmer facilitation and cooperative development processes. However, a lack of vehicles, low levels of competence and poor supervision meant that these staff (with just two exceptions) were ineffective, so it was decided to train the farmers internally.

Goat producers. Scientific Roets had already trained the farmers how to set up their own cooperative (see above). For goat production skills, it developed a qualification (equivalent to a Grade 9 school certificate) on animal production aligned with the requirements of the South African Qualifications Authority (Roets 2003). This 10-month training programme teaches small-scale goat farmers the intricacies of goat contract growing to market specifications, with 25% theory and 75% practical assignments. Aside from giving the trainees a full understanding of goat farming, it also provides them with a formal tertiary qualification which learners can use to get a job in other sectors. Funding for this training was provided by the Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority (AgriSETA) PART 2: Meat and hides 69 FIGURE 19 The butchers and leather workers have received special training and the Mineworkers Qualifications Authority (which draws many migrant labourers from this part of South Africa). A total of 162 farmers were trained on this programme, at a total cost of around R3 million (about $400 000). Each member farmer receives a specially developed manual in Xhosa, the local language, which explains important goat management principles, goat specifications (weight and age), and how a farmer can become a grower for Umzimvubu Goats (contracting and delivery issues) (Roets, 2004b).

Leather crafters. Approximately 50 leather crafters were provided with in-depth leather crafting training of 3 weeks each. Follow up training was also provided after they had a few months of practical experience.

Cooperative boards. Scientific Roets also offered a 3-day training course on cooperative management to the boards of directors of the regional cooperatives that had signed contracts with Umzimvubu Goats. This course also informed the participants about goat management and how to handle contract growing.


The market for goat meat products includes various consumers:

Muslims, who require meat that is halaal. Umzimvubu Goats’ halaal certification means that this community is its largest market.

The “New Black Diamonds”, as they are called in South Africa: newly wealthy black people who are familiar with goat meat from the communities where they grew up.

Health-conscious people: goat meat is leaner than other meats.

Adding value to livestock diversity The local Zulu and Xhosa consumers who buy meat at small butcher’s or grocery shops in the region, including Kokstad, Mthatha and Port St John’s.

Tourists at the Mount Ayliff restaurant, which caters for the adventurous interested in tasting the local cuisine.


Ensuring a steady supply of goats is a challenge. Goat breeders see their animals as a ready source of income when required. Goats are sold to neighbours, traditional healers and speculators on an ad hoc basis. Every goat sold in this way means one fewer at the abattoir.

Many producers fail to fulfil their delivery contracts for this reason.

Goats have always been used as a source of food and for traditional purposes in South Africa. They are slaughtered for various traditional celebrations, such as births or birthdays, or for religious rituals and dowries. The colour, age and sex of the goat are important, but their significance varies from tribe to tribe. Goats of different colours are slaughtered for different reasons. The Zulus, for example, believe black goats possess the most powerful magic, reddish-brown goats prevent conflict and bloodshed, and red-and-white goats are used in thanksgiving for the end of a conflict. Other colours are used by various tribes for wedding or circumcision ceremonies, by traditional healers to celebrate the end of their training period, to chase away bad luck, or to ask forgiveness.

This means that producers are sometimes reluctant to part with their animals: someone who needs to get rid of bad luck or celebrate a wedding may insist on buying goats with particular colours, and may be prepared to pay high prices to get the animals he or she wants. The owners hang on to their animals in the hope of getting good prices; because the animals are grazed on communal land, the cost of keeping a few extra animals is virtually zero. Those animals are older, so less valued as meat, when they arrive at the abattoir – if they ever make it there.

The management of Umzimvubu Goats wants to buy goats from outside the Alfred Nzo district, but the board has vetoed this idea: it says that commercial farmers outside will benefit more than local producers. But the limited supply of animals is stunting the growth of the company. If it cannot get goats from local farmers at the meat commodity price, and farmers who sell for the meat trade are not allowed to enter the business, Umzimvubu Goats will not be able to expand its operations.

–  –  –

producer can sell at any time as long as the animals meet the minimum weight requirements.

Umzimvubu Goats pays R16.50 per kilogram live weight (kids weigh about 35 kg each).

This price is fixed: varying prices according to demand would confuse and deter farmers from supplying animals.

Umzimvubu Goats can earn mark-ups ranging from 30% (for meat products) and 92% (for leather-craft). It earns more if it sells directly to buyers on-site or at festivals, fairs and shows; less if it markets through retail outlets that must earn their own margins. In fact, a deal to supply a chain of department stores with high-end cushions fell through because the stores could not sell the products at an attractive price without eating into their own profit margin.

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