The South African government is committed to assisting the country’s food producers to access export markets as part of the country’s strategy to grow the economy and create job opportunities.
This was by the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina while addressing farmers at Just Beef Farmers Day that took place in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
Gina was accompanied by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Ms Bongi Sithole-Moloi and the Mayor of the Msunduzi Local Municipality, Councillor Mzimkhulu Thebolla.
The main objective of the day was to afford farmers an opportunity to obtain information about the Middle East market for beef and lamb from the Regional Director of Lulu Group International, Mr George Sabu.
The company has more than 220 retail stores in the Middle East, India and Malaysia. The information-sharing session followed Gina’s meeting with the company in the United Arab Emirates where she was leading a delegation of South African businesspeople who exhibited their products at the Dubai Food Expo.
“As a department we undertake trips to various countries across the globe in search of export markets for our products and services. This is in line with our efforts to open international doors for our companies to do business in other parts of the world. Exports are important for the country as they bring foreign revenue that we need for our economy to grow. Companies that secure export markets are compelled to increase their production, and for this they need to invest in their infrastructure and also employ more people,” said Gina.
She praised the Just Beef members for establishing an organisation that brings together more than forty livestock farmers across the value chain from different provinces of the country.
“This initiative is really commendable. As a group you have a strong voice and strength that will boost your capacity to enter the export market in a sustainable way because you will be able to pool resources and meet the demand. As government we would like to see you succeeding in negotiating a fruitful deal with the Lulu Group. Although we have successfully done our work in linking you with the company, we will still support you in other technical aspects required for you to service the potential deal such as issues of quality and standards,” promised Gina.
Sabu said beef was one of the 700 products that his company sources from more than 90 South African companies to export to the Middle East.
“We have set up an office in Cape Town to coordinate the distribution of the South African products. We are the largest distributors of meat products in the Middle East. We do not only distribute in our stores but also to all the other stores and restaurants in the region. We will be happy to work with farmers from this group to assist them export their product,” added Sabu.
MEC Sithole-Moloi urged the farmers to roll up their sleeves and ensure that they grab the opportunity of exporting their meat to the Middle East with both hands in order to contribute in creating employment.
“This event could not have come at a more opportune time as we have declared 2021 the Year of Livestock Farming. As a department, we are dedicating many of our efforts to improve the quality and quantity of the province’s livestock. We are looking at the entire value chain including infrastructure and health with the aim of creating job opportunities, growing the province’s economy and achieving food security,” said Sithole-Moloi.
The Coordinator of Just Beef, Mr Sboniso Duma, said the opportunity to export their beef to the Middle East was like music to the ears of the farmers belonging to the organisation whose members, he said, were in possession of about 25 000 cattle.
“Market access is what every farmer is looking for. Getting this opportunity will mean that our beef will be guaranteed a market. It will encourage us to work harder and collaborate even more in order to service the new market as a group. We are grateful to Deputy Minister Gina for linking us with the international food company. What is left now is for us to engage in thorough discussions that will lead to us striking a deal,” added Duma.
CAPTION: Mr Kwazi Mncwadi, Owner of Kwa Gweva farm where the Just Beef Farmers Day took place, takes the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Ms Bongi Sithole-Moloi and the Mayor of the Msunduzi Local Municipality, Councillor Mzimkhulu Thebolla on a tour of his farm.