Johannesburg - North West livestock farmers have been urged to take part in the Industrial Development Corporation's Nguni cattle development project in the province.

“Each successful applicant will receive 24 Nguni cattle, for which a commitment must be made contractually to adhere to the project conditions for a period of five years,” the North West agriculture and rural development department said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Applicants are expected to participate in a selection process that will include short-listing of potential beneficiaries, physical interviews, and an on-site visit by the project's technical committee for verification of information provided on the applications.”

Farmers would receive 23 heifers and one bull.

At the end of the five-year-term, farmers would return 11 heifers and one bull to the project, but keep the remaining number of cattle bred.

Application forms were obtainable from all departmental district offices and local development centres.

The closing date for submissions is June 30.

The criteria for inclusion in the project included having at least 350 hectares of fenced grazing land, with water.

The applicants should also be able to prove they own the land.

“A total of 1632 heifers, 65 bulls and 675 calves have been distributed to small-scale farmers since the delivery of the first batch in 2007, out of which 216 have been returned to the project and redistributed to new beneficiaries,” the department said.

“Public servants and their immediate families, as well as communities currently benefiting from any beef project originating from the participating institutions, are prohibited from taking part in the project.”

The department said it had spent R16.2 million on the programme since it had started.

The Nguni breed was known for its very low maintenance cost and high fertility rate, and was able to withstand harsh conditions and livestock diseases.

The project was a partnership between the department, the IDC and the North West University. - Sapa