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Livestock sector needs a robust biosecurity and traceability plan, says Beefmaster

Having formal structures in place like the Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS-SA) will protect the beef industry and give it more access to global markets, says Beefmaster. Picture, Courtney Africa African News Agency, ANA.

Having formal structures in place like the Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS-SA) will protect the beef industry and give it more access to global markets, says Beefmaster. Picture, Courtney Africa African News Agency, ANA.

Published Jun 28, 2022

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South Africa’s livestock sector needs to incorporate a robust biosecurity and traceability plan for growth to be sustainable, according to the Beefmaster Group.

This especially in light of the new Agriculture and Agro-Processing Master Plan (AAMP) that was recently entered into by various agricultural sector stakeholders .

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AAMP as a multi-stakeholder deal promised to drive transformation, food security and create employment opportunities in the agricultural sector.

It aims to achieve R32 billion within the agricultural value chain and maintain 865 000 primary and 263 000 secondary agriculture jobs, as well as create 72 000 new jobs.

Louw van Reenen, the chief executive of the beef products producer to South Africa and global markets, said last week the AAMP should have excellent growth and other spin-offs for the beef sector if all the opportunities inherent in the deal could be harnessed.

Van Reenen said South Africa needed to focus on implementing a robust traceability and biosecurity plan as part of AAMP, so that it can reach more export markets, thereby growing the sector by 2030 as established by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) and AAMP.

“Having formal structures in place like the Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS-SA) will protect the beef industry and give us more access to global markets.”

He said these exports contributed billions to the economy.

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“We now need the entire sector to prioritise biosecurity, which will not only protect the health of the national herd, but also ensure that the beef industry remains profitable, a stable source of revenue, and continues to provide job security,” Van Reenen said.

Beefmaster Group said continuous outbreaks of these diseases were major barriers to reaching more markets.

South Africa has been plagued by foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks since 2019, which have had disastrous consequences.

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The more recent FMD outbreak earlier this year resulted in China suspending imports from South Africa of all cloven-hoofed animal goods, including wool, beef, and other red meat products.

According to a report compiled by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development directorate of animal health at the end of June, South Africa had 80 FMD outbreaks in the previous FMD-free zone, comprising three outbreak events.

Van Reenen said AAMP should also be read in conjunction with the Red Meat Industry Strategy 2030.

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“BFAP notes that the South African red meat industry has the potential to grow by more than 20 percent by 2030, which would add more than R12 billion to our agricultural GDP (gross domestic product) per annum. Beef, which traditionally constitutes around 80 percent of total formal red meat production value, will likely contribute the bulk of this value,” Van Reenen said.

BFAP also encapsulates the red meat sector’s commitment to AAMP to grow the industry’s Gross Value of Production by more than R8.3 billion (for the beef sector in real terms per annum), and to grow beef production by 35 percent. It aims to add 3200 additional jobs to the sector.

Van Reenen said the strategy also identifies communal and smallholder beef farmers as significant beneficiaries of AAMP.

“We have about 14 million cattle in South Africa with about 40 – 50 percent of this herd in the hands of communal and smallholder farmers. This means this sector can become a dynamic driver of rural development and wealth creation for more than one million households involved in livestock production, largely in the poorest and most neglected regions of the country,” he said.

He said the opportunity and challenge was to grow the beef export market to key economies such as the European Union and US, as this would ensure that the BFAP and AAMP milestones were reached by 2030. Currently South Africa exports 4 percent of its red meat production. AAMP 2030 is projected to grow the red meat export market to 20 percent.

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