Watch: RMIS and Boshoff Bonsmaras partner to empower small-scale cattle farmers

28 May 2024

By: Lebogang Mashala

Red Meat Industry Services (RMIS), in partnership with Boshoff Bonsmaras, held a four-day cattle reproduction management workshop last week for just over 30 smallholder cattle farmers at the Boshoff Bonsmaras farm near Leandra, outside Delmas in Mpumalanga.

The training covered topics such as the basic anatomy of genital systems, the production cycle of a cow, bovine reproductive diseases, embryo transfers and genomics, managing reproduction in multiparous beef, bull selection and management, artificial breeding and oestrus synchronisation.

Ernest Makua, the RMIS livestock technical adviser who conducted the training, emphasised that the reproductive performance of a beef herd is a crucial factor in the profitability of a beef operation. The training focused on key management practices aimed at achieving optimal reproductive efficiency and increasing productivity within cow-calf herds.

Makua said the training is aligned with the RMIS goal of ensuring the development of smallholder farmers to help the organisation reach its 2030 targets. 

According to the RMIS, the red meat industry has the potential to grow by more than 20% above a “business as usual” scenario, adding more than R12 billion to South Africa’s agricultural GDP per annum by 2030. 

Makua said with 40-50% of the national herd in the hands of communal and smallholder farmers, the sector can become a dynamic driver, changing the lives of more than 1 million households involved in livestock production. 

“Under the inclusive growth initiative, the RMIS has set a target to increase production by 35% by 2030. The organisation aims to increase the female herd composition of emerging and subsistence farmers from an average of 41% to 47%, while raising the average weaning rate from the current 40% to at least above 50%,” Makua said. 

“The overall gain of 8% in productivity translates to a 44% (155 000) increase in weaner calves produced for auctions.”

RMIS has identified at least 1,4 million hectares to support medium- to large-scale black producers. The aim is to provide production support that will result in 250 000 additional weaners entering the formal market over the next decade. Additionally, the organisation plans to establish adequate animal handling facilities in areas with the highest production and animal health risks.

“Our objective is to drive transformation within the emerging sector by integrating 250 000 weaner calves from emerging farmers into the commercial value chain. This vision is in line with our commitment to addressing nutritional needs and promoting sustainable development in regions facing complex health challenges,” Makua said.

Chris Boshoff said his family have been providing training for commercial and smallholder farmers for many years, and has done so out of passion for the industry and as a way to contribute to its growth. 

He emphasised that their accumulated knowledge and expertise over the years is something they take pride in sharing, especially with smallholder farmers.

“It is our responsibility for us commercial farmers to share knowledge, not only to foster industry growth but also to contribute to building a better nation,” said Boshoff.

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