Covid-19 Watch

Goat meat sales under pressure amid COVID-19

Goat meat is popularly marketed in the informal sector. The commercial sector is responsible for less than one percent of the goats slaughtered in the country. The informal market of goats thus drives the South African goat industry. Majority of goat meat marketed in South Africa is sold through private transactions in the informal market for slaughtering primarily for religious or traditional purposes. With the nationwide lockdown prohibiting religious and traditional activities and gatherings with the aim of curbing the spread of the virus, small scale goat farmers’ sales have taken a hard knock.  

Due to lower demand, producers are now stuck with stock they cannot sell

Farmers are now sitting with a high stock rates as the flock of goats they had planned to market but are unable to do so, due to decreased demand for the livestock caused by the prohibition of religious and traditional gatherings. Wedding ceremonies also remain prohibited and in the African culture, goats are slaughtered for bridal ceremonies, funerals and traditional ceremonies.  Therefore, the prevailing lockdown conditions have wiped the demand for goats in the informal sector off. This adds pressure to farmers as they now have to provide feed and water to goats they had planned to have marketed. The Covid -19 Aagricultural Disaster Support Fund by the Department of Agriculture will indeed assist with relieving pressure from these desperate farmers. 

Inputs provided to farmers are a welcome short term relief

However, the inputs provided can only assist for a short period and after they run out, farmers will be left in distress. The agriculture department could assist these farmers by purchasing some of their livestock, slaughtering and packaging for socio economic purposes such as including the goat meat as part of the food parcels given out to the deserving population. This can go a long way to supporting these goat farmers as they will be able to receive some income and be able to get their cash flow going.

Stakeholders in the goat value chain in South Africa have previously indicated that they were determined to expand this sector into a competitive and sustainable business that benefits both farmers and the economy. This follows several research and dieticians (source?) claiming that goat meat is a healthier substitute to beef and chicken, as it contains fewer calories, fat and cholesterol. According to the agricultural household community survey of 2016, 514 509 households owned goats, this compared to 429 065 total households during the 2011 survey. This figure is increasing as farmers find more confidence in goat farming due to them being hardier and more resilient to adverse climate conditions. It is important for opportunities to be explored in this industry in order for this market to be formalised to allow farmers to attain a more sustainable income from them.

Article by : Tshomarelo Dikgole & Karabo Mabuza

Both Tshomarelo Dikgole and Karabo Mabuza work for the Agricultural Economics and Advisory Division in the Land Bank.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Mzansi Agriculture Talk or its members.

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