From delicious Karoo Lamb to CAB-certified free-range beef, red meat is by far the largest agricultural commodity in the Eastern Cape.
Beef is farmed all across the province, with the sweet veld of the Border region particularly conducive to beef production. It is however also very drought sensitive.
The high-lying areas around Barkly East and Burgersdorp are known for the rearing of wool sheep, whereas the meat-producing Dorper breed is found mainly in the arid Karoo.
In the western region, Angora and Boer goats are farmed commercially in the marginal veld around Jansenville and Steytlerville.
The traditional communal farming areas host small and large stock as a mixed enterprise, with goats a popular choice.
South Africa is a nation of meat eaters, with consumption of beef and sheep hovering around 640 000 and 160 000 tons respectively per annum. That amounts to 13.7kg of beef and 3.4kg of lamb or mutton per person each year.
The country is responsible for 21.4 per cent of the total meat production in Africa and one per cent of the global industry. Research shows that South African red meat contains up to 40 per cent less fat than its overseas equivalent.
The livestock industry contributes 34.1 per cent to the total domestic agricultural production.
Despite this, South Africa remains a net importer of products, with an average of 32 000 tons of beef and 50 000 tons of sheep meat imported each year.
The Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) acts as a mouthpiece for commercial red meat producers and aims to promote a sustainable and profitable sector.
The RPO deals with everything from consumer and authority liaison to the meat classification system, animal health, stock theft and predator control.