FOCUS ON QUALITY SKIN PRODUCTION
Market evolution since the Covid-19 epidemic has necessitated a revisit of the company’s strategic focus and a revised operational model was researched, trialled and implemented. This was directed towards achieving a higher quality of skin for the premium market through the elimination of scarring. Extremely positive results have been forthcoming from the trials and the business is upbeat about achieving an essentially blemish free Nile skin.
For future growth
Padenga embraces the use of technology within its operations and refining its management systems and these continue to give the Company a competitive edge. Bespoke software systems are geared towards enhancing efficiency across all operational and administrative activities to maximize performance and achieve savings in time, effort and cost. The use of customized business intelligence tools and a full-time data analyst on the staff not only allows for more accurate prediction and modelling of the outcome of specific operational scenarios, but also facilitates a quicker response to economic, climatic, and related issues that could negatively impact the Company’s performance. Pen-side capturing of operational information provides real-time data to management and is used to establish dash-board indicators that highlight immediately where variances exist against predicted targets, allowing for immediate response and correction.
For healthy animals
Producing crocodiles efficiently is no different to any other form of intensive livestock production. Optimum nutrition is essential to maximise growth efficiencies, to achieve the desired level of skin quality within the shortest possible time and to ensure that the meat produced as a by-product is suitable for sale to discerning consumers worldwide. Padenga’s crocodiles are fed a highly specialised diet formulated for the different stages of growth, with additional nutrients being added against seasonal demand. The reptile, being an ectotherm, has metabolic rates determined by the ambient temperature and therefore has very different nutrient requirements in summer versus winter. Feed ingredients are sourced internationally to best advantage and formulated into a composite feed by a manufacturer in South Africa. Rigorous quality control measures, including comprehensive chemical testing of every lot of manufactured feed, ensures that the best quality feed possible is fed to the crocodiles.
For compliance and certification
All the three Padenga farms are members of the International Crocodilian Farmers Association (ICFA) which is a not-for-profit association, created to develop and improve crocodilian farming practices across the globe with particular focus on animal welfare, the environment, people and local communities. The farms are certified to the ICFA 1001 standards which is a set of outcome and good operating practice based international standards developed specifically for crocodilian production. To achieve and maintain this certification, the farms undergo intensive annual surveillance audits and are expected to continuously demonstrate compliance to all relevant regulatory obligations, international conventions including CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), certification scheme rules, animal welfare best practice, sustainability and evidence-based crocodilian farming practices. The significance of ICFA certification is that the major brands and tanneries have committed to only purchases skins from those farms that demonstrate compliance with the certification standard and consequently is a mandatory requirement for accessing the premium markets for skin sales.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
For further innovation
A full-time research team is tasked with providing evidence-based data to Padenga’s operational teams in order for them to continuously improve their animal welfare and production systems. The team comprises veterinarians, data analysts and molecular scientists. The team has the services of a purpose built state of the art on-farm diagnostic laboratory that allows for immediate in-house testing and evaluation of strategic samples to ensure optimum health and welfare of the crocodiles, as well as ensuring specified water and feed quality. The laboratory has the ability to perform:
• Molecular diagnostics - polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays
• Nanopore based sequencing
• Microbiological hygiene testing
• Crocodile blood testing
• Effluent and water quality testing
• Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISAs)
• Colorimetric Assays
HEALTH & SAFETY
For happy staff
The Division operates two clinics in conjunction with Providence Health & Wellness. One Divisional clinic is located at the Northern Farms and one at Ume Crocodile Farm. Given the economic challenges being experienced nationally, government medical facilities face ever increasing challenges in sustaining the delivery of basic primary healthcare services to rural communities. The two Divisional clinics are therefore important institutions in terms of providing primary healthcare to employees, their dependants and to members of the extended rural community. The predominant health and wellness challenges within the Division’s areas of operations were HIV/AIDS, malaria, bilharzia/schistosomiasis, and a range of other pathologies that have a low incidence but incur high treatment costs.
KEY LEGISLATION APPLICABLE TO CROCODILE PRODUCTION IN ZIMBABWE
Zimbabwe has very comprehensive and stringent protocols in place relating to best practice in crocodile production. Padenga fully complies with all these requirements. The primary regulations relating to crocodile production include:
• Animal Health Act Chapter 19:01 (1960)
• Prevention of Animal Cruelty Act Chapter 19:09 (1960)
• Food & Food Standards Act Chapter 15:04 (1971)
• Fertilizers, Farm Feeds and Remedies
Act Chapter 18:12 (1952)
• Medicines and Allied Substances Control
Act Chapter 15:03 (1969)
Representatives from the relevant government agencies conduct routine inspections of the Padenga operation to confirm compliance with the statutes.