Easier, faster market access for livestock industry

by Prof. Johann Kirsten

The livestock industry stands on the precipice of a big revolution thanks to a unique collaboration agreement between Red Meat Industry Services (RMIS), Cape Wools, the Karoo Lamb Consortium and Landbouweekblad.

The South African livestock industry experienced two huge successes over the last couple of years. First, there was astonishing growth within red meat exports that supported local meat prices during the disruption of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. 

Then, the wool industry also accepted various certification schemes, which nowadays makes South Africa the biggest global exporter of sustainable wool. Central to both of these achievements is a traceability system and independent certification process that ensures that farmers do deliver what they promise.

These two key processes will soon receive a big boost through the collaboration agreement between Red Meat Industry Services (RMIS), Cape Wools, the Karoo Lamb Consortium, Landbouweekblad, and their technology partners.

Johann, you oversee the Karoo Lamb Consortium, which requires traceability and certification. Why are these two concepts so important to the livestock value chain?

Nowadays, there are a host of private standards for wool, mohair, meat and skins (leather), similar to that for the export fruit industry, used by manufacturers and retailers to present their products to the consumer.

The consumer in our main export markets wants to know where their food and material comes from, that their carbon footprint is small, that it is produced in a sustainable environment, and that labour practices and animal welfare are maintained. 

For the future of the small livestock industry, it is thus essential to ensure these values through traceability and good management of the value chain.

Where in this process lies the value for the farmer? 

For the farmer, it means access to fashion houses in France, Italy and England, and for our top food retailers it is a guarantee of good income and, of course, a sustained demand for their products. But then the farmer must proudly and honestly be part of the traceability process. 

What do you want to achieve with the rally in Victoria West on 20 April?

The rally is a mechanism through which the wool and meat industry can present a new set of values, technology and processes to farmers in the Karoo that can open doors for them to comply with the many existing standards, audits and certification processes with minimal effort. 

All of the main markets want to know that their products come from the Karoo and that it is sustainably produced with good farming practices. Cape Wools, RMIS and the Karoo Lamb Consortium will introduce a new, simple traceability technology to farmers during the rally and explain how it will be applied. 

How can technology streamline traceability and certification processes?

The technology works similarly to Facebook or Instagram where data about your farm, your practices and your animals remain your own and you can choose with which “friends” you want to share it. You can thus have a Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) certificate, but also want to market – in addition to wool – Karoo lamb to a boutique butcher.

The fact that the farm is situated in the Karoo and already has RWS accreditation means that you are automatically eligible to officially deliver Karoo Lamb.

Who will own a farmer’s data?

Just like Facebook, you decide which data you want to share and to whom you give permission to view your farm’s data. It is your data!

What does Cape Wools and RMIS’s involvement with this rally mean?

It has been a long time coming and, with the biosecurity crises in the livestock industry, there has been a realisation the parties must work together. Conversations between Cape Wools, RMIS and the Karoo Lamb Consortium have indicated that everyone’s needs are the same and that a joint traceability system for all parties, farmers, and other interested parties in the different value chains will be of great value and ultimately save considerable costs for the farmer, abattoir and retailer.* The rally will take place in collaboration with an OVK Landbouweekblad small livestock day on Thursday 20 April 2023 on the Rondom farm in the Loxton district from 10:00 to 15:00. Reserve your seat for just R100.

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