THE Competitions and Tariff Commission has recommended the formulation of a beef industry policy for the entire value chain to address a myriad of problems in the sector, chief among them price collusion.
Presenting findings from a study of the Zimbabwe beef industry at a validation workshop held in the capital yesterday, CTC said a study into the state of affairs in the sub-sector noted several issues constraining the industry, which has potential to “contribute 86 percent to household income”.
Price manipulation by abattoirs, councils, auctioneers, high regulatory costs and recurrence of the deadly Foot and Mouth Disease were some of the factors the study recommended to be addressed through the beef industry policy.
“Cattle marketing is regional and is marketed through private and RDC auctions and private treaty. Cattle are mainly sold through private treaty when farmers take their cattle to abattoirs. Cattle prices are mainly determined by the two biggest abattoirs in the country,” the CTC study noted.
“It is recommended that the main mode of cattle sales be through decentralised RDCs auctions to enhance competition among buyers and relieve farmers of huge transport costs. This will address the issue of collision to suppress prices,” CTC said as part of recommendation from the study.
The previously commercial farmer dominated sector, which used to have an annual quarter of 9,1 tonnes of beef exports to the lucrative European Union is now fragmented with 91 percent of the country’s 5 million cattle population now owned by small holder farmers.
Although CTC noted that beef distribution was nationwide, it found out that 90 percent of the locally produced beef is earmarked for the Harare market, leaving the rest of the country to scrounge for the remaining 10 percent.
“(The Ministry of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development should craft a beef industry policy governing the entire value chain, that is, from production to beef distribution, it should among others incorporate direct and regulate the industry’s operations, streamline the various costs paid in the sector and establishment of a one-stop-shop concept for various registration, payment of fees and levies to lessen the burden on the value chain players.
“The ministry should consider transferring Agritex officers with animal husbandry qualifications or knowledge to the Department of Livestock Production Development particularly in areas with excess capacity,” noted the commission.
With Zimbabwe having lost its $2 billion export quarter to the lucrative European markets due to the recurrence of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), the commission also called on Government to liberalise the fight against the disease.
“Government should consider allowing the private sector and NGOs to participate in FMD control. Government should promulgate laws to ensure that in cases where farmers intend to convert their farms into wild animal conservancies, they should put the necessary buffer zones,” the study says.
It was also found out that farmers lack animal husbandry and cattle marketing knowledge and do not treat cattle rearing as a business. The study showed farmers are dissipated and unco-ordinated in production and marketing.