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Potential for organic beef production by communal farmers in Southern Africa: a review

P Kunene-Ngubane
M Chimonyo
U Kolanisi


Southern African countries have similar climatic and agricultural conditions, with 70% of agricultural land suitable for extensive livestock farming. The article is based on the review that assesses the potential for organic beef production for communal farming systems. The findings reveal that consumers’ perceptions of organic beef are based on the production processes. The literature shows a growing concern and controversy regarding the health, safety and environmental benefits of conventional and organic beef production. Communal farmers rear almost 50% of indigenous and adaptable breeds such as the Nguni which have proven their hardiness and adaptability through heat tolerance, improved calving rates, efficient utilization of feed resources, disease and parasite tolerance. Nguni cattle have a lower sero-prevalence for A.marginale and B.bigemina in both the cool-dry and hot-wet seasons. Consumers perceive organic beef as healthier and safer than conventional beef, and are willing to pay a premium. Civic engagement amongst all stakeholders through efficient management of indigenous knowledge systems and science is required for establishing organic beef niche market.

Keywords: Organic beef, Nguni cattle, communal farms, conventional farms.