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South African Journal of Agricultural Extension

On-line version ISSN 2413-3221
Print version ISSN 0301-603X


KUNENE-NGUBANE, P.; CHIMONYO, M.  and  KOLANISI, U.. Possibility of organic beef production on South African communal farms. S Afr. Jnl. Agric. Ext. [online]. 2018, vol.46, n.1, pp.1-13. ISSN 2413-3221.

South African communal farmers possess indigenous breeds and resources required for organic beefproduction. However, the market off-take rate from communal farms is 5-10%, compared to 25% on commercial farms, despite the fact that 40% of cattle are found on communal lands. The objective of the study was to investigate the possibility of organic beef production on South African communal farms, using Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) conducted with communal cattle farmers in UMgungundlovu, KwaZulu-Natal. The findings revealed that socio-cultural factors are the primary reasons for keeping cattle, with cash generation being a secondary importance. Despite the lack of external support, communal farmers value their communal production systems and produce which are labelled 'organic' by default. These farmers perceive this system as wholesome; results in mature and tasty meat with several domestic and medicinal benefits compared to conventional cattle production systems, hence, its products should be sold at a premium. Socio-behavioural factors, such as isolation, inferiority and lack of institutional support, market access and market information pertaining to the marketing of organic beef are the reasons why communal farmers are not actively participating in the South African formal beef market. It can be concluded that facilitating product differentiation and the involvement of communal farmers as stakeholders in the South African formal beef market through civic engagement has the potential to increase off-take rates from communal farms, rather than the bottom-up and top-down management strategies.

Keywords : Civic engagement; Communal farmers; Extension; Formal beef markets; Organic beef; Off-take rates; Socio-behavioural factor.

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