A study of the animal and crop production systems and potential of the Bantu Ciskeian Territories
Brown, Deryk Lester
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1. The aim of the study was to record the existing animal production practices, and to describe the existing agricultural structure and the production limitations as a basis of the assessment of the agro-potential of the Ciskei. 2. A survey of the twelve districts involved, was undertaken and as many agricultural officials in these districts and at King William's Townhead-office, were interviewed and consulted. All available literature and records were investigated. 3. Historical literature was consulted to provide the necessary background to all possible phases of Xhosa and Fingo subsistence agriculture from the time of the early Portuguese reports up until recent times. This information indicates that numerous changes have been made in agricultural methods employed by the Bantu, as well as in their customs, and these ar e practically all due to European influences under a process of acculturation. A shifting-type of cultivation has been in existence from the earliest times, until boundaries were determined in the latter half of the nineteenth century. 4. A detailed description of the geographical areas is presented in the text, the four zones totalling 1, 061,491 morgen, of which 4. 2 per cent is privately owned by Bantu, the remainder being South African Bantu Trust property. Over 55 per cent of the area receives 25 inches (635 mm) of rain and over. 5. The human population totalling 404, 818 souls, is predominantly Xhosa with a smaller proportion of Mfengu (Fingos). The possibility of a 35 per cent under=estimate of the population exists. Arable land per capita of the rural population is 0.352 morgen. Traditional and present day diets are mentioned, and the main change has been that sour milk has been replaced, to a large extent, by cereals. Average estimated educational levels lie between standards two to four. Malnutrition is rife amongst the Bantu in the Ciskei today. 6. Animal husbandry is generally at a low level, and while the Bantu have long been associated with livestock, they cannot be referred to as being stockmen in the European acceptance of the word. Using the modified Talbot system of calculating livestock equivalents, there were 342, 253 mature livestock units in the Ciskei, and the grazing pressure averaged one unit per 2.51 morgen. It is estimated that there were not more than 10 per cent of the land and livestock owners in the Ciskei who can be regarded as "progressive". The Xhosa consider cattle to be the most cherished of their possessions, and these play an important part in their social, economic, rttual and spiritual life. Cattle have been used in the payment of lobola or bride-price but a change over to a cash basis seems prevalent. Cattle are of a heterogeneous type, but the encouragement and sub sidisation of Brown Swiss sires by the authorities, has tended to increase the number of exotic/native cross-bred progeny. A homogeneous and productive cattle population throughout the Bantu Ciskei is the aim of this policy. The Bantu farmers have many arguments against the Brown Swiss breed. Breeding data is presented, and in some locations where late castration of the bull-calves is practised, inbreeding appears probable, although its effect is probably minimized because of the continuous replacement of animals that die. Veld and browse provide about 99 per cent of the diet of cattle, the remainder being crop residues. Very little provision is made for winter feeding, even in the irrigation areas. Management is generally at a low level, being of the traditional type, while the annual incidence of disease together with no, or ineffective, treatment, is responsible for lowered production. Mortality in normal years lies between five and six per cent, but can be as high as 50 per cent in a drought year in some locations. Mature native cattle average about 820 pounds liveweight, while the Brown Swiss cross-breds have averaged 1,040 pounds. At the East London abattoir, Bantu-origin cattle averaged 380 pounds for cold, dressed carcasses, and in 1967·,90 per cent of these carcasses graded thirds and fourths. Cattle dying in the locations are generally consumed by the local population. The popularity of stock sales is stressed by the large increase in numbers sold over a ten-year period. The incidence of bovine cysticercosis in Bantu stock at the abattoir averaged 7.53 per cent compared with the European cattle incidence of 4.87 per cent. African goats predominate, but the Angora goat and Boerbok are gaining in popularity. Goats are run together with sheep and are important from both Co-operative dairy schemes operate throughout the Ciskei on a basis of . separating the milk and selling the cream. Fresh milk is sold by a few of these dairies, notably Jan Tshatshu in the King William's Town District, where cows averaged 7.86 pounds of milk daily on irrigated pastures. Dryland production averages 2.77 to 6.49 pounds per cow daily. A high proportion of the calves die from overrnilking of the dams each year. Nearly 38 per cent of the total cattle population are oxen, and these are maintained chiefly for land cultivation purposes. Sheep of the Merino type, are kept and averaged 50 to 90 per cent lambing percentages in the different localities. Nutrition and management are much the same as for cattle. Wool yields average between three to four pounds per sheep, the wool being fine (64's to 66' s), but being of an inferior quality and mostly short wool. Large numbers are sold on the stock sales, but from a ritual viewpoint, sheep are considered unsuitable as they do not cry out when being slaughtered. African goats predominate, but the Angora goat and Boerbok are gaining in popularity. Goats are run together with sheep and are important from both a ritual and a meat point of view. African Hut-pigs are the main type in the Ciskei and are scavengers, the latter being the reason why the incidence of cysticercosis is as high as 13. 38 per cent of all Bantu-origin pigs. Equines and poultry, comparatively speaking, are relatively unimportant, although the horse plays an important role in transportation and recreation, and it is generally considered that the fowl provides a good deal of the meat consumed in some districts. The "Native-type" horse and the African Hut-fowl predominate. 7. Crop production plays an important, although secondary, part in the lives of the Bantu farmers, and only 13 per cent of the total area is arable, of which 67 has been planned. Dryland cropping is most common, but there are four irrigation schemes in existence. Maize, sorghum and wheat are the important crops, and in all cases, low yields are obtained. Oxen comprise the chief draught power when ploughing, with tractors accounting for about one third of the area ploughed. Just over half of the veld is under a system of controlled grazing, while soil erosion is a serious problem in many areas. Vegetable, fruit and forestry generally play a small part in the life of the farming community, the forestry side falling under the Trust to a major degree. 8. The limiting factors in animal, crop and pasture production, are indicated in detail. In animal production, low yields are due primarily to poor nutrition and management, and in some locations, to inbreeding to a Iesser degree. In crop production, natural factors, low soil fertility, erosion, poor cultivation practices, and the negligible use of fertilisers and organic matter, are, inter alia, responsiblé for low yields. The relative scarcity of organised markets, inadequate development of water resources, the existing limited credit facilities, lack of capital and the predominating form of land tenure, are all factors which affect animal and crop production. In 'general, the human factor is considered to be the main limiting factor in production, since the Bantu farmer displays his greatest deficiency in entrepreneural ability. The agro-potential of the Ciskei is assessed, and it is apparent that a highly accelerated, evolutionary approach is required. The animal potential is high providing that improved nutrition and management practices are introduced and that breeds are used to best advantage on an ecological basis. Many production schemes are indicated but these require the production and utilisation of supplementary feeds to even out the nutritional level in the dry periods and to encourage the use of improved production techniques. The growing of lucerne under irrigation and dryland conditions, together with the processing of crop by-products into fortified feeds, can give a tremendous boost to animal production in the Ciskei. The agronomic potential, in terms of average yields per morgen, can be assessed as follows: maize - 12 to 15 bags; sorghum - six to eight bags; wheat - five bags; lucerne hay - three tons. Most crops growing under irrigation, could have their averages nearly doubled, and the area under irrigation, 735 morgen, could quite likely be increased to 19,000 morgen, not including supplementary irrigation schemes. The grazing potential of the high rainfall areas could be assessed at two to two and a half morgen per livestock unit. Where veld is fertilised, animal production could be increased three to fourfold. In realising the agro-potential of an area, education at all levels, becomes of prime importance, and this includes the provision of sufficient practical and well-trained agricultural extension officials in the field. Credit facilities, and out-right ownership of land are necessary, and agricultural co-operatives and farmers' associations are seen as mediums through which higher levels of production can be achieved. Human potential can be realised mainly by education and example and it is here where the progressive farmers have an important part to play. Industrial development is needed to relieve the pressure on land, so that only the true farmer remains on the land. The existing "dual society" presents difficulties on both the agricultural and industrial sides. A system of training farmers is mentioned,· together with the role that Radio Bantu is playing in agricultural development. A list of recommendations is appended, and deals with ways and means of bringing about an agrarian revolution.