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16 July 2018
Benefits of Fort Hare Nguni Cattle Project to be felt for generations to come Print
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00

In September last year, Prof Naftali Mollel wrote a blog for the DRUSSA website about the successes achieved in the Nguni Cattle Project at the University of Limpopo in South Africa. This project is, in fact, part of a larger one taking place in seven provinces, whereby a university in each of the provinces collaborates with the department of agriculture and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to work with emerging farmers to grow Nguni herds. 

Farmer communities are given a number of pregnant heifers and one or two bulls on loan and, over a period of five years, have to return the same number of heifers and bulls. Meanwhile, their own herds continue to grow.

 

The project has been operating at the University of Fort Hare (Eastern Cape province), the University of Limpopo (Limpopo and Mpumalanga province), the University of the Free State (Free State and Northern Cape provinces), the University of Zululand (KwaZulu-Natal province) and North West University (North West province) for some years now. Three of the universities are DRUSSA participants, namely the Universities of Fort Hare, Limpopo and the Free State.

In the Eastern Cape, this joint project between the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (EC DRDAR), the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the University of Fort Hare (UFH) has significantly contributed to rural development, knowledge generation and human resource development. So far, more than 70 communities have benefited since the project’s launch in 2004.

But it is not only rural communities that have benefited. The project has benefited human resources development in this, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. It has provided fertile ground for research and the University has produced and continues to produce PhD and MSc graduates from it.

To date at least five PhD and six MSc graduates have been directly or indirectly produced from the project. At least two more PhD and 15 more MSc students have graduated from meat science research projects that emerged from the Nguni Cattle Project. Several honours and undergraduate students have also benefited.

One PhD and one MSc student who worked on the Nguni Cattle Project graduated in May this year. In addition, two PhD students and five MSc students who worked on meat science projects graduated at the same time. And for the first time in the history of the University, a female South African PhD (in animal science at UFH) student also graduated.

Currently there are several postgraduate students attached to the Nguni Cattle Project (one PhD, four MSc and two Honours). The project and its related research activities have played host to more than 35 National Research Foundation and Department of Science and Technology interns over the last two years.

Because of the project’s positive effect, more than 60 publications in NATED journals have been realised over the last five years. Most of these publications are highly cited and downloaded internationally. Several international and local conference papers have also been presented on work related to the project, and several others are under review. Another milestone is the registration of a patent on the meat science project, something from which the Nguni Cattle Project itself can benefit.

The project has also seen some offshoots and collaborations emerging, specifically the South African Research Chair Initiative SARChI Chair in Meat Science, which is shared with Stellenbosch University and the Technological and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) in Animal Welfare and Meat Science, in partnership with the Red Meat Research and Development of South Africa (RMRD-SA).

The impact of the Nguni Cattle Project in the Eastern Cape and at the University of Fort Hare in particular will be felt for generations to come.

 

Prof Voster Muchenje is the Head of Department and Professor (Meat Science) at the University of Fort Hare, as well as Co-Chair of South Africa's National Research Foundation SARChI Chair in Meat Science-Genomics to Nutrinomics

 

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