The Sunday News
Farming Issues, Mhlupheki Dube
THIS past week I had the opportunity to attend a production reduction sale by one farmer in Marula area of Mangwe District in Matabeleland South Province. The sale was conducted by CC Sales Auctions, renowned livestock auctioneers in Zimbabwe. The auction was held on behalf of Matabele Ranch with around 170 head on offer. This pen wishes to share a few lessons which were picked on this sale.
First and foremost it was inspiring to note that the farmer is a young man with serious passion which is evidently demonstrated by the level of investment he has sunk on his farm. The fact that a young man of barely over 30 years of age (by my own estimation) can have the passion and patience to sink that kind of investment into such a long-term project dispels the myth about youth being generally despondent and disinterested in farming.
This production reduction sale held at his farm was a clear illustration and demonstration that with proper planning, proper investment and proper execution it surely can be done. The farm is properly fenced and almost all the requisite infrastructure is available and that in itself is a clear statement of intent. It is refreshing deviation from the usual sorry sight farms that one is used to especially by smallholder farmers.
I have visited some farms which do not have a basic structure such as a mere loading rump and the perimeter fences are in a state of advanced neglect or are completely not available and animals are a permanent nuisance on the roads. Another lesson I picked from this sale was that farmers have to be brave enough to chart their own course in terms of their production objectives.
The farmer is producing Borans and the Simmental with some of the stock having been imported from a neighbouring country. To me this is a brave decision especially in a country with a de facto Brahman monopoly and he broke the ranks to chart his own course. He is obviously now being counted among the few available producers of the Boran and Simmental in the country.
At the risk of sounding racist it was quite reassuring to attend a personalised sale organised by another man of colour. That itself demystified the unfounded and often misplaced nexus between race and commercial agriculture. It is therefore, my call to other livestock farmers, especially those running large herds to emulate the Matabele ranch reduction sale. Instead of perennially moaning about unfair prices at council auctions and abattoirs why not organise your own sale and engage professional auctioneers to run the sale?
If your offtake cannot warrant a sale, why not join forces with other farmers? It is my hope therefore that livestock farmers can consider adopting this method of disposing animals for maximum returns from their animals. Again the level of attendance by farmers was a very clear demonstration of massive interest in livestock production.
Lastly one lesson which was again demonstrated in this particular sale as in other auctions of similar nature is that quality sells. Who honestly would complain if his pedigree cow goes for $1 800 and weaner heifers fetching $950? I implore our livestock farmers to invest in quality animals and thereafter the selling becomes mechanical. The quality of the animals on offer was top notch and inevitably the bidding was robust and I wish this for every livestock farmer. Uyabonga umntakaMaKhumalo.
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