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The demand for red meat in South Africa will continue to outstrip supply until the government comes to the party and helps producers, the National Emergent Red Meat Producers Organisation says.
The organisation said it was failing to meet the demand for local consumption because of low production as a result of a lack of land and the high production cost of red meat.
Nerpo managing director Mlulami Mahanjana said the amount of red meat produced was lower than the demand, which was going to increase because of population growth and the economic growth of the black middle class.
"We will continue to be a net meat importer as long as the population grows faster than the production of meat," Mahanjana said.
He said this at a Nerpo gathering in Polokwane, where delegates met to discuss plans to increase red meat production in the country and tap into the international market.
Mahanjana blamed the problem on a lack of subsidised production for farmers, saying the production costs were high and land availability was another problem faced by farmers.
He said the government should help farmers increase their production capacity.
Mahanjana said the farmers were supposed to take advantage of the market since demand outstrips supply.
"We are not happy with the production, that is why we are holding this discussion. We want the government to come to the party because our farmers are not subsidised," he said.
He said meat production could increase by 80percent and its availability would be significantly beneficial during 2010.
The participants also identified underutilised farms in communal land that could be made available to farmers.
But Limpopo MEC for agriculture Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba appealed to farmers to form cooperatives and take advantage of the government's other rural development programmes.
She said some of the farmers in the province were experiencing diseases among their animals due to transfrontier park implications.
strategies for prevention will be key," Letsatsi-Duba said.