Written by Phila Dlamini
FARMERS affiliated to the Power Team Feedlotters Association have lamented the sky-high feed prices that have threatened the local beef industry.
Speaking during the feedlotters day that was held at Swaziland Meat Industries (SMI), Chairman of the Power Team Moses Shongwe said as a result, many farmers had deserted the feedlot business.
"We have over 300 hundred registered members and 166 of these were in active business.
However, the ever escalating feed costs have seen a lot of farmers deserting their businesses, such that we only have 66 farmers who are still in business," he said.
Both their families and all stakeholders in the industry feel the consequences of the farmers' desertion of the industry as a lot of jobs and income had been lost, he added.
Shongwe said since the formation of the Power Team in 2003, they had sold over 18 000 cattle to SMI, which translates to 32 400 tonnes of meat.
"Had it not been for the suspension of Swazi beef in the European market, we could have exported more. As a result of the ban, it occurred to us that we had to do more in order to comply with the European standards set," he added.
Shongwe said the unstable weather, which brought about droughts over a prolonged period, was another factor that was working against the farmers.
Further, he warned his colleagues that the Power Team Association must not regress to the level from which it started by having fewer members and thus, a low production rate.
On another note, Japhter Magwaza, a feedlot farmer who served as master of ceremonies during the feedlotters day, added that another problem that was faced by the farmers was the sourcing of cattle for their feedlots.
"As much as we know that things do not happen overnight, it has become harder to source livestock that we can fatten and still make a profit.
However, we are optimistic that government will help us overcome these problems," he said.