Nearly 90% of South Africa’s water for agriculture comes from surface catchment areas that are vulnerable to alien plant spread and bush encroachment, often triggered by communal livestock. Degradation of rangelands across Africa is destroying water catchment functions and driving poverty for livestock farmers. Restoring catchments infested by non-native species is a national priority in South Africa for efficient water management.
Trained cattle herders and communal herding techniques minimize the negative impacts of and alien plant invasions to wetlands and riparian zones. Conservation South Africa uses an innovative business model, Meat Naturally Pty, to implement communal grazing systems that result in improved water and food availability. The business model is based on training herders and supporting market access in a way that improves livestock condition, croplands, rangeland ecosystems, and, by working at scale, ensures sustainability in formal private sector markets.
How Does It Work?
Meat Naturally Pty uses ecological science, a government job creation program, and market interest in sustainable meat to implement communal grazing systems that result in improved water and food security. The system provides a scalable vehicle for African communal farmers to enter into a growing niche market for grass fed and sustainably-produced meat.
The enterprise will have two key revenue streams: one focusing on production and land restoration support by Ecorangers paid by the government, and another focused on sales and auditing support paid by farmers and retailers.
Using Ecorangers to intensely manage grazing will improve soil and allow for crop planning and fertilization to be integrated into resilient food systems. Once established in South Africa, this model can be the driver for development for much of Africa’s drylands.