The Sunday News
I HAVE had discussions with a number of farmers who have presented complaints about being short-changed by the market when they wanted to buy one form of livestock or another.
The complaints range from poultry producers who have been supplied chicks that remain stunted even after several weeks of feeding through farmers who have bought goats with brown heads sold as Boer goats to farmers who bought priced bulls which go on and fail to perform to their expectations.
The bottom line in all these complaints is that farmers bought a product which did not perform to their expectation and more often than not there is no recourse mechanism for the buyer.
Therefore, the most pertinent and inevitable question which forms the fulcrum or pith of this instalment is how can farmers be protected from sellers who sell products that do not measure to their specification!
When farmers pay top dollar for a buck which is claimed to be a Boer buck they have aims and objectives they want to achieve among them infusing high performing genetics of the Boer breed.
Yet some unscrupulous dealers prey on the inadequacy of knowledge and experience of some of the farmers. They know that most farmers think that every goat which has a brown head and white body is a Boer goat. It may not be. Also, if in fact, it is a Boer goat indeed how much of the Boer genetics is it carrying? That is, what generation of the crossbreed is it? These are important questions that need to be answered to help the farmer choose better and perhaps pay an amount which is commensurate with characteristics of the product.
In some instance some farmers have paid through the nose for a pedigree bull with the hope of transforming their herd genetics and earn more money from selling a good product in the market.
Some bulls fail to measure up to the expectations and others even develop problems that affect their breeding capacity such as prepuce prolapse.
Prepuce prolapse is the disfigurement of the sheath that protects the penis of the bulls such that the penis of the bull appears like it is swollen.
While this is a condition that is aggravated by physical conditions of the environment such bulls grazing in bushy and thorny environments, it is the pendulous sheath which the bull inherits from its parents which predisposes it to the prepuce prolapse.
Therefore, it is genetic condition that can actually be selected out by the breeders.
So, some farmers who buy young bulls may not be aware that they are buying a bull with a pendulous sheath which is likely to cause them a problem of the prepuce prolapse.
I therefore, think that there is need for a standards regulatory body in the livestock sector which will make sure farmers produce products that fulfil the description of performance which is ascribed to that product.
Am talking here of a statutory board of experts which can be established and mandated to monitor that livestock farmers especially breeders produce a product that meets minimum thresholds in that category.
This body can ensure that any farmer who claims to be a stud breeder is indeed a stud breeder not just some fly by night whose are bent on creaming out unsuspecting farmers by charging them a premium price for a sub-standard product.
If someone is selling some brown headed goats and claiming to be selling Boer goats, this standard control body should be able to sniff such people out and protect buyers.
Honestly, we cannot have livestock being bred on the terms and standards of the farmer with no reviewing authority which can independently verify the product.
We need a regulatory body which will provide a peer review process specifically to specialised farmers like stud breeders so that farmers pay for real product which meets the catalogue description.
If a PHD thesis can be subjected to a peer review process to test its academy rigour so should stud breeders. The regulatory body because of being comprised of experts in the livestock field can also act as advisory system for the powers be and policy makers on matters livestock.Uyabongaumntaka MaKhumalo.
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