Friday, 20 November 2015

Linking Beef Smallholders to Markets

This month ACIAR and ARC South Africa announced a new partnership on a project we are simply calling “Linking Beef Smallholders to Markets.”

Following discussions between partners, including the project leaders from the University of New England, Dr Gary Griffith and Dr Heather Burrow, at the ARC Irene Campus with the project’s industry and scientific council on 3 November, an official launch and “cook fest” was held on 4 November.

In launching the project the Australian High Commissioner to South Africa, HE Adam McCarthy, noted the close linkage between the two countries and the shared challenges in Agriculture.

Participants at the launch were treated to a cooking demonstration by MasterChef © winners, Kamini Pather (South Africa) and Renae Smith (Australia) who were guests of the Australian High Commission in Pretoria. Renae made cheese centred beef burgers while Kamini made beer and soy beef with pak choi and jasmine rice. Both dishes highlighted the value of quality beef product and were enjoyed by all in attendance. Participants were then treated to presentations by the project scientists, including a talk on the veld (rangeland) management, breeding programs, and germplasm conservation and reproductive technologies using a mobile clinic.

Project partners with the two Chefs. (L to R: Joel - DAFF, Liz - ACIAR, Adam - DFAT, Renae Smith - MasterChef winner 2014, Australia, Kamini Pather - MasterChef winner Season 2, South Africa, Norman – ARC, Kennedy - ARC and Simphiwe -NAMC. Missing from the picture are Baldwin Nengovela - the project coordinator, South Africa and Gary Griffith and Heather Burrow - University of New England). Source: ACIAR

The project includes partnership with the South African National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). It also has keen interest and partnership with key supermarkets including Woolworths. It is this element that provides the value chains that will be used to collect data relevant to all the players. The Woolworths supermarket chain was represented at the meeting by Mr Johan Bester, Senior Buyer, Meat.

Kamini Pather’s dish of soy beef with pak choi and jasmine rice. Source: ACIAR
It has been difficult for small-scale and emerging farmers to penetrate these value chains because they have been too small to compete and provide quality and consistency. The social scientists within the project will therefore be looking to strengthen adoption at project sites with willingness from the Abattoirs and collective action from the farmers. The plan is to introduce mostly grass-fed beef into the system, with quality properly managed along the way to match consumer preferences.

All the partners in the Linking Beef Smallholders to Markets project agree that if models are tested and developed to move the small-scale and emerging beef cattle farmers from subsistence to market suppliers, the impact could be felt all over southern Africa with the supermarkets replicating the models in other countries.

By Liz Ogutu, Regional Manager Africa, ACIAR

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