‘Game in­dus­try should cash in on ex­port po­ten­tial’

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Commodity Outlook 2019 -

Un­cer­tain eco­nomic con­di­tions have a di­rect im­pact on the game in­dus­try, but there is hope that mar­ket forces will bring bal­ance this year. This was ac­cord­ing to Wi­aan van der Linde, deputy pres­i­dent of Wildlife Ranch­ing South Africa (WRSA).

Van der Linde said con­sumer spend­ing had been lim­ited by the lo­cal eco­nomic cli­mate and that this had a di­rect im­pact on the game in­dus­try.

He said there was cur­rently an over­sup­ply of some species, es­pe­cially rare game, which had a neg­a­tive ef­fect on prices. How­ever, some re­lief could be on the hori­zon as lower prices meant that game farm­ers could no longer breed these species in in­ten­sive, high-in­put con­di­tions. This forced pro­duc­ers to keep these an­i­mals un­der semi-in­ten­sive con­di­tions, which re­sulted in lower birth rates as fewer feed in­puts had a neg­a­tive im­pact on an­i­mals’ con­cep­tion rate.

In ad­di­tion, large num­bers of game were hunted in 2018, which also ad­dressed the chal­lenge of over­sup­ply. The ef­fect would, how­ever, only be­come ev­i­dent in three to five years, Van der Linde said.

As many game farm­ers had har­vested large num­bers of game due to the drought, and some game species num­bers were thus still low, bil­tong hun­ters could ex­pect slight price in­creases for game an­i­mals.

“If there are price in­creases it is be­cause game farm­ers want to pro­tect their [game] num­bers,” he said.

The mar­ket for game meat was still fairly un­tapped and had great po­ten­tial for both ex­ports and lo­cal con­sump­tion, he added. Ac­cord­ing to Van der Linde, the coun­try was not tak­ing ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able to it. Re­search in­di­cated that there was great po­ten­tial for game meat ex­ports to the Mid­dle East and Asia, but the nec­es­sary trade agree­ments needed to be put in place to ac­cess these mar­kets. Large lo­cal teams cur­rently har­vested about 500t of game meat a year, but pri­vate busi­nesses could es­tab­lish a large game meat in­dus­try if given the op­por­tu­nity.

Van der Linde said land re­form cre­ated a lot of un­cer­tainty, but he be­lieved that af­ter the 2019 elec­tion an eco­nomic cli­mate would be cre­ated in which in­vest­ment was fa­cil­i­tated, and this would spill over to the game in­dus­try. “Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa [ear­lier] an­nounced that he wanted to sup­port the ‘green econ­omy’ and that he wanted to ex­pand the cur­rent 20 mil­lion hectares of game farms to 30 mil­lion hectares through trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tives,” he said. – Ger­hard Uys

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