(Top) Photo by Charlie Shoemaker
South Africa recently suffered its worst drought in recorded history, with devastating consequences for communities and wildlife in the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, which borders the famed Kruger National Park. Utah Village is one of the villages located close to Kruger National Park. It also falls in the area that has been under quarantine for the last 15 years due to the contagious foot and mouth disease.
The inhabitants of this village depend on small-scale livestock production on communal range-lands for their livelihoods. Cattle play an integral role the culture here, where a family’s wealth can be measured by the size of the herd it owns. The drought experience brings with it a myriad of challenges. For families struggling to make ends meet, the loss of a single cow can mean economic ruin. Before SWITCH Africa Green intervention, access to markets was almost impossible for these farmers. Selling of cows took place in the same community during ceremonies such as marriage and religious festivities majorly to raise school fees for their children. The rates were low as the demand in the area is not high since most people in the area keep subsistence cattle.
Through SWITCH Africa Green’s intervention, the village has been enabled to form a cooperative to graze their cattle and trade their meat communally and profitably. Current membership now stands at 96 farmers who have about 299 heads of cattle. Conservations South Africa (CSA), a SWITCH Africa Green Grantee, has also introduced the concept of a mobile abattoir, where by instead of the farmers going to find them, the abattoir comes to the village. The project has also initiated constant supervision of health of cattle such as regular dips and vaccinations and communal grazing through synergies with other projects Herding for health project, Bush clearing project and Kruger to Canyon project.
Biodiversity and Red Meat Cooperative, a SWITCH Africa Green partner, buys and sells the meat on behalf of the farmers beyond the restricted area, this allows them to fetch a better price for their produce since they are not allowed to leave the quarantine area. SWITCH Africa Green through its grantee has also provided synergies with other projects including the monitoring of health of cattle by herd monitors, who ensure sustainable herding. To cap drought as a challenge, rotational grazing has been introduced and should help in case of future drought. The cooperative is now collectively working to negotiate for good meat prices for the free-range grass fed meat in the market. This has created hope in the community for they can now sell their meat at better prices due to the cooperative established with CSA. The abattoir now slaughters about 24 animals per mont
One farmer remarked, “I now see the benefits of working together. If we want something, we need to start working as a group — start ourselves, not wait for others to come and help us.” The sentiment reflects success on the ground: As farmers fetch higher prices for cattle on healthier range-land, they will become better prepared for the next drought.
(Left) Photo byConservations South Africa
Conservation South Africa is one of the five SWITCH Africa Green grantees working with about 600 beneficiaries across South Africa who participated in the recently concluded National Networking Forum that was held in Pretoria. The forum, which took place from 27 – 28 June 2017, brought together various national stakeholders working on greening of the South African economy (including MSME’s, Policy Makers, Financing Institutions, International Development Organizations, Civil Society and the Private Sector) to deliberate on approaches to further improving the framework conditions for promotion of the Green Economy and Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in South Africa.
About SWITCH Africa Green
The overall objective of SWITCH Africa Green is to support 6 countries in Africa to achieve sustainable development by engaging in transition towards an inclusive green economy, based on sustainable consumption and production patterns, while generating growth, creating decent jobs and reducing poverty. SWITCH Africa Green is developed and funded by the European Commission and implemented by UN Environment in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).