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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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The following calculation shows the value-adding potential of processing goat meat. By selling a 35-kg goat for R16.50/kg, a farmer can earn R577.50. Selling the goat’s meat in an unprocessed form does not increase this value very much, and competes directly in price with other, more familiar meat types. Consumers are reluctant to pay extra for (relatively unfamiliar) goat meat when they can buy (more familiar) mutton or beef. Processing the goat meat increases its value: for example, making cabanossi (a type of sausage that is considered a delicacy) can earn R842 per animal. Obviously, the overhead, spices and other costs must then be covered by the profits generated.


Umzimvubu Goats is a government initiative – it would not have happened at all without the support and initiative of various government agencies and individuals. A Member of Parliament, Geoff Doidge, gave the initial impetus. The Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Council provided vital support, and the national government provided funding through the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme. The local authority, the Alfred Nzo district municipality, managed the project and owns the majority of the enterprise. The government’s National Skills Development Act enabled the Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority and the Mineworkers Qualifications Authority to fund the cost of training the farmers.

No policies limited or hindered the development of Umzimvubu Goats. The company did have to comply with various regulations, however. It had to register the abattoir with the Department of Agriculture’s Public Health division, and had to employ a meat inspector.

Halaal certification came with its own stringent rules and requirements (for example, the employment of a certified slaughterer and regular inspections by the Halaal Authority).

The cooperatives also have to comply with new legislation about branding: abattoirs may now slaughter only animals that have a registered brand or tattoo. This is to curb the high levels of stock theft in some parts of South Africa. This requirement meant informing farmers about the new law and getting them to brand their animals. At R150, registering a brand is too expensive for individual farmers, so a rule was introduced to allow cooperatives to register a single brand on behalf of their members. Umzimvubu Goats devised a system where the cooperative brand is applied as an ear-tattoo, while the farmer member number and animal number appear on the animal’s ear-tag. In this way the animals are all legally branded and the farmer’s individual animals can be identified.

Adding value to livestock diversity


As the majority owner and supporter of Umzimvubu Goats, the district municipality has subsidized the salaries of the staff-members of the enterprise since its founding. But this was never intended to be a permanent arrangement. The business is currently (2008) undergoing a critical management and procedural makeover to move it to greater independence from its major benefactor. This is proving to be a painful process with several problems now being exposed that have gone unnoticed due to the subsidy from the district municipality.

One such problem occurs in management decision-making. Business decisions made by the professional management team (the general manager and marketing manager) need to be approved by the Board of Directors, but they are largely uneducated in the field of business. This has created an almost hostile situation where, for example, the board vetoes purchases of necessary and legitimate items (such as spices or packaging) but approves its own transport and per diems.

To deal with this situation, a new constitution or set of rules is needed and must be accepted by all the members of Umzimvubu Goats. This should make it clear that the management is allowed to run the business, and that the Board of Directors is responsible for helping source supplies of the raw material from their cooperative farmer members.

The district municipality has contracted a management consulting company to help sort out these issues.


Umzimvubu Goats has had a substantial impact on the local economy. It provides a consistent, reliable market for local farmers, as many as 3 000 of whom have sold animals to the company since 2005. It has created an up-market product range from previously underused goat skins and meat, and sells these both locally and nationally. Building the facility created temporary employment for 300 local people, and permanent employment for 48, including animal handlers, abattoir personnel, crafters, management, restaurant and curio-shop personnel and administrators. It draws tourists to the Mount Ayliff area. Off-site, several groups turn leather into craft products. The company is starting to employ agents in the villages to source goats for the facility on commission.

REFERENCES Roets, M. 2003. NQF 1: Animal production learnership: Goat specialisation. Registered with AgriSETA. Scientific Roets (PTY) Ltd.

Roets, M. 2004a. Farmer facilitation and co-operative development process. Scientific Roets (PTY) Ltd.

Roets, M. 2004b. Umzimvubu Goats: Regional co-operatives, membership, goat production and delivery guidelines. Scientific Roets (PTY) Ltd.

Roets, M. 2004c. From folklore to feasibility: The commercialisation of South Africa’s Indigenous Goats. PhD Thesis. University of Pretoria.

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Marketing Criollo goat meat under a protected designation of origin seal in Argentina Facundo Lopez Raggi, Marcelo Perez Centeno, María Rosa Lanari, and Julieta von Thüngen Christmas and New Year are barbecue time in Neuquén province, in the Andes Mountains of northern Patagonia. Local families get together to enjoy the festivities, and the area’s beautiful scenery attracts many tourists. Barbecues in restaurants, gardens and parks are an important part of the celebrations.

The ribs and chops that sizzle on barbecues are special, too. Local people say the meat, from kids (young goats) of the local Criollo breed, tastes better than any other. Many visitors agree – and they are prepared to pay more for it. That opens an opportunity for local goat keepers to earn more from their animals.

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The locals and the visitors are right: the meat from young Criollo animals does in fact taste better than other types of meat sold in Neuquén. There are two main reasons that

these goats are special:

The breed itself. Thought to have been introduced by the Spaniards in the 17th century, the Criollo goat was the dominant breed in the area until the beginning of the 20th century, when Angora and other goat breeds arrived in the region. The Criollo goat is hardy and prolific, and grows well in the harsh environment of the high rangelands of the Andes. This adaptation means that it is unlikely to be replaced completely by the more fastidious Angora and other exotic breeds.

The high rangelands. The goats are raised by transhumant herders known as crianceros. Every summer, they drive their flocks to pastureland in the mountains, returning to the warmer valleys in the autumn. At lower altitudes, a thorny shrub known as neneo (Mulinum spinosum) is common; it imparts an unpleasant taste to the meat of animals that graze on it. But neneo does not grow at higher altitudes, so the meat of kids born and raised in the highlands do not have this taste.


About 1 500 criancero families herd their goats in the Andean Cordillera and the front ranges of northern Neuquén province. The average criancero keeps a flock of 360 goats, plus some cattle and a few horses, and grows some vegetables on the side. Selling kids and goat skins is their main source of income, though many families also work part-time in the towns. These people have close ties to the land: traditional collective agreements determine where each owner may graze his or her flocks. The herders are almost all family members. The kids are born in the spring, before the flocks leave for the high pastures, and are ready for slaughter in November to January, the southern hemisphere summer.

Northern Neuquén produces some 115 000 Criollo kids a year.

It is a hard life: the long seasonal migration, difficult living conditions and low incomes are unattractive for young people, who are increasingly moving to the cities, leaving an PART 2: Meat and hides 75 FIGURE 22 The goatherds of northern Neuquén have a traditional way of life aging cadre of herders and a shortage of labour to look after the animals. It is a long way to markets, and production is highly seasonal. Scattered on public land and in inaccessible areas, the crianceros are not well organized, despite their strong sense of identity. Winter ranges are being reduced by desertification, and transhumance routes to the summer foraging areas are being restricted by land-ownership changes and by competition from forestry, mining and development.


How can the crianceros earn more from their goats? Two main ideas arose: barbecues and cultural identity.

Barbecues. The crianceros know that meat from their goats is prime quality. It is especially tasty when barbecued, and barbecues are an important part of local and national celebrations.

Cultural identity. Producing goats is part of the crianceros’ identity, a major thread in their lives. Without goats, they cannot make a living where they live. In this environment, no other animals perform as well the Criollo goats.

The combination of these two ideas can be used to increase demand for the meat.

That requires by marketing it under its own label, enabling consumers to recognize that it is special. Until recently, the meat was sold without such labelling, so the consumer had no way of distinguishing it from other types of goat meat. By applying a “designation of Adding value to livestock diversity origin” label, it should be possible to carve out a niche market for Criollo goat, enabling retailers, and ultimately producers, to get a higher price for the produce.

But applying a label is not as simple as it sounds. How can the crianceros be sure that a market for their goats actually exists? How to organize themselves to market their animals in the most effective way? What is to prevent other producers from outside the region using the same label? And how to organize the value chain so as to maximize benefits for the livestock keepers?


To explore the Criollo goat’s potential and answer these questions, in 2004 a group of local institutions formed a collaborative forum. This forum has grown into a platform for local development based on upgrading and raising the value of the goats. It includes crianceros, traders, professional organizations, development officers and researchers from various disciplines. It agreed to develop a designation of origin for the goats to benefit the producers, the meat industry and consumers. A research and development project began in 2005, funded by the National Science and Technology Agency, the Municipality of Chos Malal (a town in northern Neuquén province), and Institute of National Agricultural Technology (INTA). This project aimed to:

Organize the value chain for Criollo goat Determine the technical aspects of the product to be designated.

Organizing the value chain Crianceros raise goats mainly to supply their families and other relatives with meat. If they have a surplus, they sell the kids to local traders, most of whom used to be (or still are) crianceros themselves. They know the area well, and the crianceros trust them. For the crianceros in their isolated homesteads, these traders are an important link to the outside world: they provide them with food, information, medicine and other items. The animals are slaughtered by local butchers and by the households themselves. These two channels (1 and 2 in Figure 23) account for about 87 000 (75.6%) of the 115 000 kids slaughtered each year.

Another 27 500 kids (24% of the total) are slaughtered at the area’s main abattoir, in Chos Malal, in the centre of Neuquén province. This is run by the municipality, has a cold storage room and complies with all health regulations, enabling it to provide meat to local, national and even international markets. Most of the animals that pass through the abattoir are sold through local supermarkets and butcher’s shops (channels 3 to 6 in Figure 23). These retailers specialize in Neuquén goat meat and use its origin as a selling pont.

They buy the meat directly in Chos Malal and have access to stocks that enable them to be the sole suppliers of the product out of season. Restaurants do not account for significant volumes, approximately 0.35%.

A small number of animals, less than half of one percent of the total, are slaughtered in other abattoirs further away (channel 7 in Figure 23). These slaughterhouses handle large volumes of meat from various sources. They supply small quantities of Criollo kid meat to restaurants, small supermarkets and butchers outside the region.

Of the animals slaughtered in the Chos Malal abattoir, 54% were destined for sale in PART 2: Meat and hides 77

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Alto Valle (around the city of Neuquén), and another 20% in Los Lagos (a tourist area in the south of Neuquén province, around the city of Bariloche). A further 12% were sold in Chos Malal itself (the destination of the remaining 13% was not specified).

Prices The criancero generally sells live animals for $26 each. The trader sells the animals for the same price, but takes the hide (worth $1.30) in payment. The local butcher slaughters the animal and sells the meat for $34. Butcher’s stores and supermarkets sell meat for $71 (they have to pay for transport, which costs $1.67 per animal). Restaurants may sell the same amount of cooked meat for $150.

A survey of tourists conducted in 2008 found that 70% would be willing to pay a premium for meat certified as higher quality, and nearly half of those would be willing to pay 15% extra. This finding supported the idea to obtain a label to differentiate the Criollo meat from its competitors.

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