The Sunday News
A DISCUSSION with some feedlot farmers after they sold their animals during the past week opened my mind to some aspect of farmer training that is usually taken for granted by most trainers including extension officers.
I am talking about the power of practical exposure as a tool for farmer learning and training.
Most livestock farmers despite having been in the livestock industry for a long time still find themselves wanting regarding the important details of some aspects of the livestock value chain.
While this information or knowledge is neglected or ignored by most farmers and trainers alike, it is very important to ensure that a farmer redeems the appropriate value of his/ her livestock at the market end of the chain.
The feedlot farmers that I alluded to above were in awe for the amount of exposure and learning that they experienced by merely being afforded an opportunity to visit and tour a functional abattoir and witness the whole slaughtering process until the final stage when they got paid. That kind of practical visual aided learning is so important to smallholder farmers and that helps them to understand the ins and outs of the market end of the livestock value chain. Farmers begin to understand how certain aspects or attributes in their animals affect the ultimate price they earn from the animal.
Such aspects as age of the animal, sex, fleshing index and fatty cover are clearly shown and demonstrated at the abattoir.
While this may seem a small issue to one who is used to witnessing this process, it means a completely different thing to a farmer who has witnessed it for the first time and had the privilege of having officers who are responsible for different aspects explaining their function.
One instant effect practical exposure has is the demystification of the abattoir process and setting the farmer at ease at this level of the value chain. Half the time smallholder farmers are ripped off by the more enlightened middlemen because of the fear of going through office processes and procedures and preferring instead to trade at the farm gate level at a gross rip off.
It is my prayer that most smallholder farmers acquaint themselves with the marketing processes in the livestock value chain and be ready to go the smaller extra mile which will make a difference between being ripped off and getting the right value of your animal.
Farmers should dissuade themselves of both the laziness in terms of following due processes such as going through the clearance procedure so that you can properly sell your animal and the fear of apex areas such as abattoirs.
As a farmer, be prepared to go to the end of the chain if that is where you will get the most of your animal.
Do not be content with receiving peanuts for your animals simply because you are either lazy to go through the processes or you are afraid of “office”.
There is absolutely no justification for settling for less from your animal when you have done everything in your power to raise that animal and only to cheaply dispose it at the end.
If someone is coming and buying animals from you and does nothing other than clearing them and transporting them to the abattoir and still gets twice as much as what he gave you, why not cut him out and sell direct to the abattoir.
Admittedly not everyone can go to the abattoirs to sell their animals but if farmers could work together and aggregate their animals each time they want to sell, they could solve the perennial problem of being ripped off by predator middlemen.
It is my prayer that exposure trainings could be expanded in most extension programmes so that more farmers get to know the intricacies of livestock marketing and go the extra mile to get value from their animals.
Feedback [email protected]/cell 0772851275