Conrad Mwanawashe Business Reporter —
A COMPREHENSIVE livestock strategy, covering restocking, equipment and infrastructure development, pasture development and the resuscitation of the Cold Storage Commission, will be rolled out soon.
As part of the strategy, the livestock industry has been made an appendage to Command Agriculture, Government’s programme that has seen more than 2 000 farmers roped in to produce maize targeted at two million tonnes this season.
The roll out of the livestock strategy will be preceded by a countrywide consultation programme with stakeholders who include livestock farmers, processors and purchasers of livestock, including small stock.
Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said Government realises the importance of the livestock industry to the economy and has extended Command Agriculture to also encompass the sector.
“We have made the livestock industry an appendage to Command Agriculture. We have secured funds for that,” said Acting President Mnangagwa.
He was speaking after an industrial tour of milling companies in Bulawayo last week. The tour, a brainchild of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, took the Acting President to National Foods Limited, Blue Ribbon Foods and UniMills.
“We are waiting for the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Dr Joseph Made) to work out a programme to make sure how this can be rolled out so that we can support livestock production in the country. We are focusing on restocking our head,” he said.
Livestock, particularly beef farming was one of Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earners exporting to Europe and other parts of the world. The livestock industry has faced a myriad of challenges over the years which have resulted in reduced numbers of livestock and the closure of the CSC was the final nail.
Yet the industry could become a significant contributor to national economic growth and development because of its linkages to sub sectors such as stockfeed manufacturers, meat and milk processors and veterinary input suppliers.
However, the sector is set to reclaim its position if Government proceeds to roll out the proposed livestock strategy as enunciated by Dr Made. He said a comprehensive stakeholders’ consultation will be carried out soon to map the way forward.
Dr Made, who represented Industry and Commerce Minister, was accompanying Acting President Mnangagwa on the tour.
“As we all know livestock is also grown the same way as you raise a crop. It has certain inputs that are required that range from the annual inputs – the vaccines, the medicines – the remedies. Then we have also infrastructure related to livestock that need to be put in place,” said Dr Made.
“There is machinery and equipment that also relates to farmers who raise livestock particularly in this part of the country there is what we call sweetveld which you can harvest to make hay but we need machinery for that.”
According to the Livestock Research for Rural Development sweetveld refers to grazing where animals gain weight during the growing season and in winter, and are able to at least maintain their body weight. Sweetveld is in low-lying (<900m) semi-arid areas that receive low rainfall (<600mm).
The livestock strategy will also cover equipment and machinery for farmers, processing of hay, among other areas. This will be covered under the Phase 2 of the Brazilian agricultural equipment programme.
Zimbabwe received a $98 million facility for agricultural equipment from Brazil under the first phase which included 320 tractors, 450 disc harrows and 310 planters valued.
The second phase of the programme is expected to release equipment valued at $30 million.
“We are happy that under the Brazilian programme second phase a certain number of tractors and machinery and equipment that relates to hay bailing will also be acquired very shortly,” said Dr Made.
As part of the strategy, Government is also looking at enhancing the nutritional value of the livestock through imported pastures seed.