Red meat products prices went down through the second quarter of 2019 with a further slump expected towards the third quarter due to a decline in beef prices.
The number of animals available for slaughter has substantially reduced, leading to a decline in meat output. According to BFAP, lower prices, combined with persistent dry weather conditions in key production regions are expected to limit the rate of flock rebuilding over the next few years.
In January 2019, an outbreak of a foot and mouth disease was reported in the Vhembe District of Limpopo. There were fears that the outbreak might reach other parts of South Africa. By mid-April, the department of agriculture officially declared the end of FMD.
According to agricultural economist Dr Ndumiso Mazibuko, South Africa is still reeling from the effects of the 2015/2016 drought. Experts are concerned that this may had posed a constraint in meeting South Africa’s increased meat consumption.
“At the height of the devastating drought, farmers off-took large numbers of livestock substantially reducing the herd numbers” he said.
Currently, South African commercial abattoirs were reporting low slaughter numbers which could be driven by among others weaner calf prices, imports and high feed prices.
South African consumers are expected to be the worst affected due to current economic conditions. “This is illustrated by the low demand of red meat products, supply outweighing demand in auctions, which also is shown in the decline in the beef prices in the first six months of this year”
The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) recently welcomed a decision by the country’s authorities to fully suspend the small-stock marketing scheme to allow producers to export without restriction to South Africa. This will further drive exports to South Africa and increase meat prices locally.
“Live sheep imports mainly from Namibia increased by 75% in the second quarter 2019, with imports expected to remain at this level during the third quarter of 2019 due to the declining local supply. In terms of lamb and mutton, South Africa’s consumption exceeded local production hence the high import numbers the country is experiencing” added Dr Mazibuko.
The herd number of communal livestock in South Africa is unaccounted for with some estimating that it commands about 40% of cattle herd. The current Farmer Register Database process could be an excellent opportunity to capture the number of communal livestock around the country.
One of the inefficient and idling policy mechanisms was the livestock Brandmark. In its current application form it did not register the number of livestock per applicant or holder but rather captured the number of individual applicants, thus loosing tracking of the number of livestock ownership per applicant.
The revitalisation of smallholder livestock schemes is capitulating and needs to be resuscitated to meet South Africa’s high consumption demand. South African government has to consider investment in market infrastructure and slaughter facilities in order to increase off-take from smallholder farmers in rural areas.
Programmes like the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) Kaonafatso Ya Dikgomo (Kyd), National Agricultural Marketing Council’s (NAMC) National Red Meat Development Programme (NRMDP), IDC Nguni Project are some of the programmes that can increase livestock production in South Africa.