NWU technical staff share their knowledge with farmers during an information session.
“The programme is continuing in 2017 as the NWU has partnered with farmers from the Batswana area, offering them similar opportunities to improve the health of animals in their care.”
Around 35 farmers in the rural Mahikeng area in North-West and some 195 final-year NWU students have been part of and benefited from a programme to improve the general welfare of farm animals in the area.
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The Ambulant Veterinary Community Service Programme, run by the Mafikeng Campus, is providing much-needed training and support to farmers in the spheres of animal health, running a stock farm as a business, grazing principles, record-keeping, parasite control, feeding and breeding.
How it started
Established in 2012 in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, the programme offers solutions and assistance to stock owners, and also creates the opportunity for students at the NWU to gain practical experience.
It was initiated after assessments among several farmers in the Mahikeng area revealed an urgent need for training and support for farmers.
Dr Mathew Nyirenda from the Centre for Animal Health Studies at the Mafikeng Campus says one of the objectives of this programme was to increase the value of the stock or herds of the farmers concerned.
How farmers benefitted
“During the past few years, experts and final-year students from the NWU visited various farmers on a weekly basis and also presented several valuable information sessions. The monthly seminars in particular were very popular. The farmers, agriculturists, students and veterinarians were given an opportunity to exchange ideas and expand their knowledge,” he says.
The programme, which has been partially funded by the Emthunzini Trust since 2012, also focuses on empowering young farmers and female farmers by sharing information with them.
According to Mathew, the programme reached a peak in 2015. He believes the fact that there was less interest in the programme during the past year is a clear indication that many of the farmers in the area have already benefited from our programme and acquired sound knowledge.
“These farmers have now developed the self-confidence to take the proverbial bull by the horns on their own.”How the project bears fruit
Feedback from the participating farmers revealed that the programme had made a significant difference. Farmers feel that it had increased their knowledge, honed their existing skills and taught them new ones, leading to a great improvement in the health of their animals. They say that grazing and water were better managed, which resulted in less competition and conflict over the use of these scarce resources.
Mathew says the programme also created the opportunity to reinforce relationships with the provincial government. “This enhanced the possibility for further projects and support in these communities.”
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