Meat vendors face closure due to livestock scarcity

Pavement meat vendor Madlamini in Nyanga is worried that their business in going down.

While there has been a lot of talk about Cape Town’s worsening water crisis, Nyanga meat vendors say they are facing a meat drought.

The usually busy meat stands on the corner of Sithathu Avenue and Terminus Road are now quiet, with vendors lamenting that they had been unable to get livestock -which threatens their business.

This has left meat eaters and tshisanyama owners in limbo.

The stands are popularly known for their fresh meat mixed with bile. People travel from all over the city to indulge in the meat synonymous with traditional ceremonies.

A meat vendor who introduced herself only as Madlamini shared her concerns with Vukani.

With only a couple of pieces of meat next to her, Madlamini said vendors who sold mutton faced the threat of closure because of the scarcity of sheep.

On Sunday May 7, she said, she went to the farms as she usually did, but was unable to get sheep.

“We were told there are no sheep. But some managed to get a few, but (it was) hard. On Sunday there was no business for us,” she said.

“On Monday we went back but most of us came back empty-handed. So many have been out of business for close to a week now.”Asked about when she’d been able to get the little meat she had, she said she had been to a number of local farms looking for sheep and had managed to get two from one of the farms.

“But it is worrying because what will I do tomorrow and the other days? The sad thing is that farmers are not sharing anything with us. All they say is that they do not have sheep,” she told Vukani.

A disappointed buyer, Zukile Ludwe, from Crossroads said he came all the way for nothing, and suggested the vendors look at farms outside the city for their meat. “It has become a norm that we eat meat with inyongo here.

“We cannot live without meat. This place has also been a place where some of us socialise. They need to go out more to get these sheep,” he said.

Alan Winde, MEC for Economic Opportunities, estimated loss in livestock, that in excess of 30 000 animals have been sold as farmers battle to feed their core herds. He said one of the biggest threats facing the economy was the impact of extreme weather events. The MEC said other losses in the agriculture sector include, the loss of 200 000 tonnes of wheat due to insufficient rain during the 2015 winter; decline of five percent in the wine grapes harvested during 2016 due to high temperatures and lack of irrigation water. He said as a further result of the water restrictions, agricultural economists are projecting a R112 million decrease in Gross Value Add, an indicator of all goods and services produced by sector, and a possible drop of 1 728 in the number of available seasonal work opportunities.

Addressing the Western Cape Water Security Indaba in Goudini, Premier Helen Zille highlighted the problem of a livestock shortage on farms. Ms Zille said the agricultural sector had been hard hit by the drought, with 200 000 tonnes of wheat lost in the 2015 winter, and a 15% decrease in fruit production in 2015/16.

Some 30 000 animals have also been sold due to farmers battling to feed their livestock.

Agricultural economists are projecting a R112 million decrease in Gross Value Added in the sector, and a possible drop of 1 728 in the number of available seasonal work opportunities.

Ms Zille encouraged the different spheres of government to co-operate to find solutions that would not only address the current crisis, but mitigate a disaster in the future.

At the indaba a broad range of interventions were discussed, including tapping into the Table Mountain Aquifer, desalination and water re-use.