I am extremely honoured to serve again as President of Wildlife Ranching South Africa. Although the past year has had many challenges, we look forward to the opportunities created.
There is concern, stress, political, economic and social chaos globally – I need to mention just a few examples: terror attacks in Europe, wars in the Middle East and the European refugee crisis. To emphasise this, I recently read a shocking statistic that the US dropped more bombs (approximately 26 000) during 2016 than in previous years.
Locally, these challenges are exacerbated by our political situation, by a hunger for land and most importantly a hunger for food. Food insecurity is South Africa’s biggest challenge and is behind much of the unrest we see daily.
We know that there will be a billion people in the world by 2050. The need for protein will double over the next 33 years. In that same short period, we will need to produce more food than all the food produced in the world since the beginning of agriculture.
“Luckily this is not a problem in South Africa,” some say.
Wrong! While I do not agree with her political ideologies, I urge you to read a book by Tracey Ledger called The Empty Plate. There you will see the shocking statistics of how many people/families are not food secure and go to bed without a meal at least once a week, how many have to be satisfied with nutritionally inadequate diets because they cannot afford better, and how many children (almost 25%) go to school without breakfast. I do not need to spell out the disastrous consequences.
As custodians of 20 million hectares, this is our challenge. It is a national challenge that we, as game ranchers, can do something about. We have a primary product – MEAT.
Yes, there are other products:
- Tourism – both consumptive and non-consumptive
- Breeding/Stud farms
- Conservation and biodiversity contributions
These are the cherry on the top. This makes our wildlife ranching community and industry so essential to this country. We know this; it is built into and is encapsulated by our vision, mission and strategy documents.
What we have to do, because time is running out, is always focus on our goals. We must not allow internal divisions in our organisation or in our industry to distract us or divert us from our chosen path. Similarly, outsiders – often noisy, ill-informed individuals or organisations – must not be allowed to distract us.
We must focus on and stick to our goals, intensify our efforts and make things happen because no-one else will do it for us.
We need to focus, work and reap the benefits together.