High quality markets and value chains for small-scale and emerging beef cattle farmers in South Africa

Results from two earlier ACIAR-funded projects in South Africa clearly demonstrated that cattle grazed by small-scale and emerging farmers have strong capacity to meet the specifications of a range of high quality grain- and grass-fed beef markets. To date though, integration of these cattle into South Africa's commercial beef supply chains has been poor, partly due to the lack of appropriate business structures that promote and coordinate beef production and marketing processes across small-scale and emerging beef farmer groups, allowing them to meet the quality and supply demand requirements of the commercial value chains.

In partnership with three commercial supermarket chains (Walmart/Massmart; Pick 'n Pay; Woolworths South Africa), this new ACIAR-funded project is undertaking the research needed to develop a wider range of market outlets, products and value chains for beef produced by the small-scale and emerging sector in South Africa. In particular, the project is assisting small-scale and emerging farmers to work with commercial partners to modify existing value chains and/or design, trial and establish new value chains to supply high quality markets for cattle in South Africa. Additional cutting-edge research is focused on identifying the key factors or 'capitals' (e.g. financial, physical, environmental, governance and social structures, skills and knowledge, cultural and psychological) that impact on success (or otherwise) of individuals from the farming enterprises, farmer co-operatives, abattoirs, retailers and value chain support teams and the interactions that occur between and across them.

Goal and Objectives

The goal of the project is to identify, modify and develop a wider range of market systems and value chains for small-scale and emerging beef farmers in South Africa. It will be achieved through four inter-dependent objectives that will:

  1. Develop, modify and evaluate the value chain and market requirements needed to ensure small-scale and emerging cattle farmers better understand customer preferences and receive appropriate rewards from meeting the specifications of expanded and diversified beef markets and value chains.
  2. Develop, modify, trial, implement, and evaluate the supporting production system, institutional and practice change elements needed to ensure small-scale and emerging cattle farmers can meet the specifications of these expanded and diversified beef markets and value chains.
  3. Develop, evaluate and implement decision-support tools to recommend the most appropriate and profitable beef production systems for small-scale and emerging farmers.
  4. Measure, monitor and evaluate the ongoing performance of the project and all its components.

Outputs and Impacts

Benefits from the project will initially accrue to South African cattle farmers and beef value chains, but the ultimate aim is to also deliver direct benefits to beef producers in Australia and across the Southern African Development Community. Specifically, the project will:

  1. Deliver new or locally adapted value chain arrangements that allow market preferences for high quality beef products to be accurately and effectively transmitted to small-scale and emerging farmers and for farmers to be appropriately rewarded for the quality of their product relative to market specifications.
  2. Deliver new or locally adapted animal production technologies to support the modified or new value chains in the fields of range and nutrition management, animal breeding and meat quality, taking account of the social, cultural and environmental constraints faced by these farmers.
  3. Develop and implement new tools and methods of achieving behavioural change, deliver appropriate training and resource material for these new tools and methods and train adoption science expertise to facilitate the ongoing development and expansion of farmer networks in South Africa.

Use existing networks of farmers from the previous projects and other small-scale and emerging farmers who already undertake herd recording in conjunction with existing formal cooperatives to provide a critical mass of farmers interested in supplying new or existing high quality value chains and benchmark the productivity and profitability changes of these businesses over time.

Due for completion in 2018

Funded by: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research

Partners: various South African partners in research and the beef value chain, as well as the University of Adelaide

UNE Project Members

Professor Heather Burrow

Professor Derek Baker

Professor David Lamb

Adjunct Professor Garry Griffith

Emeritus Professor Ray Cooksey

Adjunct Professor John Thompson