The Umzimkhulu farming community’s wool production initiatives in KZN received a major boost following the handover of much-needed shearing equipment from Bayer in South Africa, one of four farming community’s that the project is being extended to for 2018.
The remaining three farming communities are based in the Eastern Cape and follows on Bayer’s initial equipment handover to four other shearing sheds, also in the Eastern Cape, at the end of last year. Wool is one of the most profitable commodities in agriculture and most of it forms part of large exported agricultural items with reports suggesting that the industry could add up to R2 billion to the GDP.
Facilitated through a partnership with the local Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in both KZN and the Eastern Cape, the shearing equipment, maintenance of the shearing shed and training for the farming communities is a fulfillment of Bayer’s commitment to empower and enable smallholder farmers to be active participants in their local economy.
Dr György Polgár, Head of the Animal Health in Southern Africa explained the significance of the project to smallholder farming, “Having the correct equipment is critical to bolster efficiency and production volumes for smallholder farming communities that are already pooling their resources together. We believe that we have a responsibility to nagivate the 1 400 communal wool sheep producing communities in South Africa and identify those that really need our help to meet future demands that are perpetuated by a growing population. Through our partnership with government and local farming communities, we are hoping to help enhance efficiencies in order for the community farmers to increase productivity and become competitive.”
Agriculture is an important source of employment with an estimated 990 000 households involved in livestock production. An estimated 95 percent of the total farming community falls within the emerging farmers’ category and many lack the support and services needed so they can excel and succeed, underlining the significance of partnerships such as these.
Dr Polgár concluded: “We are hoping that this support, in the form of time in services and maintenance in these operations, as well as our investment in the form of critical tools-of-the-trade will advance these emerging farmers. Most importantly, the sustenance of their operations guarantees much needed employment and the promotion of entrepreneurship.”