GENETIC IMPROVEMENT OF COMMUNAL SHEEP FLOCKS

Local farmers across the O.R. Tambo District benefited from the RAMS Exchange programme. Two hundred and seventy Duhne Merino Rams have been distributed across the district. This is an ongoing O.R. Tambo District Municipality funded Rams Exchange Programme which is being rolled out to the rest of the district with the aim of improving wool production and farmers’ access to high yield breeds of rams. 

Ntinga O.R. Tambo Development Agency is the implementing agency of the O.R. Tambo District Municipality ensuring that local farmers are benefiting in the wool improvement programme. Sheep farmers and wool growers across the district gained from this important and high impact programme aiming at the genetic improvement of communal wool sheep flocks. Majority of local farmers around the district have benefited in this programme and expressed gratitude to government for involvement in sheep. farming.

Communal livestock farming is one the world’s oldest farming systems and is associated with improved household food security in poverty-stricken areas. Sheep farming plays a significant role in poverty eradication especially in the Eastern Cape Province.

Speaking on behalf of Ntinga O.R. Tambo Development Agency Acting CEO Loyiso Mbiko highlighted the importance of Sheep farming and how it contributes towards the red meat value chain across the district. “The exchanged Rams have the potential to adapt to harsh conditions of the Eastern Cape Province with minimal maintenance costs. Moreover, the communal sheep taken in exchange from the local farmers will be fattened and taken to Umzikantu Red Meat Abattoir for slaughtering. Sheep farming plays an important role in the local economy and red meat value chain in the district” said Mbiko.

He further articulated that all the strides that have been made are in line with the National Development Plan (Chapter 6) which points out that there is a need to revive and mainstream communal agriculture.

Konaye Sitofile member of the Executive Committee of Libode Woolgrowers Association commended the O.R. Tambo District Municipality as well as Ntinga for this great initiative. Sitofile also highlighted that their sheep flocks have poor wool and this programme will assist them to improve their flocks and the quality of wool they produce as the local farmers.

Socio-economic challenges such as lack of job opportunities and poverty in the communities of O.R. Tambo District are notable, thus the government is making tireless efforts to revive communal agriculture.

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