Developing agri-wildlife hubs

Circular, Regenerative and Biodiversity Economies

Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,

Working with communities around South Africa, ESA is developing a number of businesses that will form the core of the agri-wildlife economy at multiple sites. These agri-wildlife hubs consist of a number of enterprises that form the core of the agro-wildlife economy.

“Developing an inclusive sustainable rural economy to the benefit of the communities that own the land, the environment and the local economy, puts ESA at the forefront of modern conservation, which values people and wildlife. “ Clive Poultney

Wildlife Economy Business Incubator

An incubator is an organisation that aims to contribute to the process of creating successful enterprises by providing them with a comprehensive and integrated range of support, including incubator space, business support services, investment finance and clustering and networking opportunities. The use of incubation as a policy instrument for socio-economic and technological development took off during the last 30 years and currently there are more than 10 000 incubators worldwide.

The wildlife incubation concept and business model developed by ESA is the blueprint and road map for the future success of the National Development Plan, the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy and other Government and provincial development strategies towards job creation and economic growth. It’s designed with tangible, practical outcomes in mind that successfully address the challenges that put pressure on global food production in the wildlife sector.

The KWEBI Case Study

The KZN Wildlife Economy Business Incubator (KWEBI) is the first of the businesses that ESA has established as part of building a local wildlife-based economy in the greater uMgungundlovu District Municipality, in KZN. 

KWEBI’s role is to establish the wildlife value chains and invest in and support the SMMEs within the value chains to achieve sustainability. 

It is only the second wildlife incubator in South Africa and the world, which will support the development of an emerging wildlife sector through whole-value-chain development.

“It’s a model that ESA can duplicate throughout South and southern Africa, adjusting for context, but aligned with the same outcomes – improved livelihoods for rural communities, and the protection of biodiversity through wise development.” Clive Poultney.

On land owned by the KwaXimba community, including a 4680 ha game reserve, this project has had R10m grant support through the DEA EPIP, which included completing a Big 5 perimeter fence (25km), road rehabilitation (52km), alien clearing and debushing (220 ha) (220 ha), as well as refurbishment of building infrastructure to be used as a projects office, incubator infrastructure and a training centre. Additional game farms will be developed on community-owned land in partnership with those communities neighbouring the Mayibuye Game Reserve, e.g. Amacamu Trust, Nkosi Shangase, Nkosi Mapumulo.

 KWEBI follows and leverages on the development of the Limpopo Wildlife Business Incubator established in 2016.  A consortium of parties provides the framework, vision and long-term development goals for this project through the integration of skills, knowledge and experience supported by various other industry specialist resource partners.

KWEBI develops the supply chains within the inclusive rural economy; invests in local small enterprise owners; invests in restoring landscapes within wildlife production / conservation areas, as well as the communal cattle grazing areas; whilst building conservation areas within the rural landscape and within the community livelihood context.

Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,

Regenerative Cattle Farming

One of the models we use is the Community Cattle Model, developed in partnership with the community cattle farmers of the KwaXimba area (near Camperdown and Cato Ridge), Mkhambathini Local Municipality, KZN. This is where cattle herds are gathered into larger herds for ease of health management / disease control, security of the herd, and used as a landscape restoration tool (Savory, 1988). 

Community cattle owners incorporate their cattle into the commercially farmed herds, whilst retaining ownership, and cattle are clearly marked. Cattle are herded and cared for by teams of trained herders (4 herders per herd, 24/7). The herders learn to move the herds according to a grazing plan that restores grazing pastures for cattle. Targeted land includes the Mayibuye Game Reserve and associated wildlife production land units, as well as the traditional community cattle grazing areas, which are in a poor state due to lack of pasture management practices or rotational grazing. Restoration of these areas will in the medium terms (3 -5 years) increase biodiversity and carrying capacity. This directly enhances the number of animals which can be kept on an area (increase in number of Large Stock Units – LSUs – per hectare).

Whilst the restoration is taking place, cattle nutrition is supplemented where necessary by fodder produced by the EcoFarms, a highly nutritious protein-rich food source, essentially germinated barley seeds, wheat, etc. The EcoFarms are a ‘sister’ company within the agro-wildlife economic model.

In parallel, the cattle herd is managed for improved productivity, i.e. old cows that are no longer producing calves will be removed from the herd and sold as grade C beef. Improved nutrition contributes to enhanced calving rates. Genetics are improved through introducing high quality bulls and cows as breeding stock for the herd and building the base breeding herds over a period of 3 – 5 years. In addition, weaners will be added to herds to supplement the meat supply stock of a herd and to ensure in the short term that income can be generated.

All cattle will be clearly marked to identify the owners, and as owners sell cattle they can decide how to use the proceeds, i.e. reinvest in growing their herd numbers within the larger herd, remove a portion for income, or remove all the income they generate from their cattle. Cattle owners are encouraged to grow their herds and therefore, the size of their herds within the larger herd, and hence the income they can generate.

Cattle can be moved from the herds into the EcoFarms to be ‘backgrounded’ / fed to reach the goal weight before slaughter and processing. This will be a commercial decision based on market demand and volume of demand.

Climate Smart EcoFarm

EcoFarms are an agricultural system of technical and intensive food production 365 days a year without the reliance on favorable weather conditions. The risk is taken out of food production as fodder is produced at a rate of 1m2 equating to 8 hectares of conventional farming. This means that an EcoFarm situated on 5 ha, equates to 200 ha of conventional grazing. 

With these levels of efficiency, food production becomes exciting to the youth, reduces the carbon footprint of food production and stimulates both education and employment opportunities throughout the production cycle. The average age of a South African farmer is 68 years old, we therefore need to show young people from as early an age as possible that agriculture is technical, interesting, exciting, a good career and done correctly, it is profitable.

An EcoFarm can be set up within 4 months and due to the principles behind it, it can be productive within 1 month from setup therefore, operational within 5 months from conception.

Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,

The “Fodder Biscuit” (above) can be grown in various shapes, lengths and weights, typically 5 kilograms. This “biscuit” is the heart of the system and saves up to 40% of feed costs.

Example of a typical Eco Farm

1. There is a borehole and water storage tanks.

2. The main shed houses the:

    • Barley Seed (dark green) storage area,
    • Fodder House (white) which is where the barley seed is germinated and 1.5 tons (1500kg) of fodder is produced/day.
    • Milk Processing (blue) area capable of holding and processing 500 liters/day.
    • Egg Storage (yellow) where the 2000 eggs will be packed and stored/day.
    • Spaza Shop (brown) where most of the products will be sold.
Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,

3. Layers (dark green) containing the 2500 egg layers.

4. Broiler House (dark green) containing the 4500 broilers, they will be able to venture outside as free range.

5. Milking cows and the beef animals will have space to graze, walk and access feed.

6. Sheep and goats will have space to access feed.

7. The two Hydroponic tunnels will be used to produce speciality vegetables and fruit, i.e. tomatoes, peppers and chillies.

8. Each unit will have electricity plus a backup generator and solar panels.

9. Units will be fenced off to ensure livestock control.

10. Specific vegetables will be grown in the tunnels as indicated and other vegetables grown in the “intensive vegetable” irrigated production area.

Blueberries

Using a conservation agriculture approach, the blueberry farm will commence with 10 hectares of blueberries under shade/hail netting, this will be followed by a further 10 hectares in year 2. The farm will be assessed and the correct lands identified for development. Irrigation will be a necessity and water will need to be piped to the relevant fields, water storage will be required to ensure sustainability during periods of limited rain and power failures.  This will add value to the land, equity, employment and offer small business opportunities in the community.

Pomegranates

The Pomegranate farm will commence with 3 hectares of pomegranates under shade/hail netting, this will be followed by a further 3 hectares over the following 3 years resulting in 12 ha. The farm will be assessed and the correct lands identified for development. Irrigation will be a necessity and water will need to be piped to the relevant fields, water storage will be required to ensure sustainability during periods of limited rain and power failures.  This will add value to the land, create employment and will assist in building pride within the community. 

Future Projected Impacts

Social

Economic

Environmental

ESA sites

Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,

Mayibuye agri-wildlife hub

4680 ha of land owned by a group of 454 land claimants near Camperdown, Mkhambathini Municipality in KZN, who established the Mayibuye Community Trust with the mandate of developing the land for conservation and wildlife economy to the benefit of their people.

Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,

Baphiring agri-wildlife hub

3000 ha game farm and 1200 ha cattle farming land. ESA-Community agreement in place and SPV titles Royal Phiri Investments Pty Ltd established.

Environmental Sustainability Agency, the ESA, Developing African Conservation Leaders, Developing agri-wildlife hubs, Inclusive rural economic development, Localising supply chain, conservation leaders, clive poultney,

Highveld agri-wildlife hub

8000 ha game reserve, 1100 ha game farm and 2000 ha cattle grazing land, owned by the Barolong bo Modiboa people near Potchefstroom in the North West. ESA-CPA agreement in place, SPV to be established.