Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe will soon resume beef exports to the lucrative European Union market, with negotiations to that effect already underway, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Speaking at a Press conference yesterday, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said Cabinet would, in the coming few days, discuss a national strategy on livestock production in preparation for the exports.
Zimbabwe last sold its beef to Europe in 2001 before the exports were suspended because of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
“As we are talking, there are inquiries from Europe relating to the fact that we must focus on the livestock sector and the potential to re-enter the European market in terms of beef exports,” said Dr Made.
“We are in agreement with the European Union that we must re-establish the green, the red and the white zone as it relates to foot and mouth and re-establishment of the foot and mouth fence across the country.
“It is not a secret as ruled by the World Trade Organisation that all beef entering the European market must be labelled GMO-free or GMO-fed beef.
“So, we are mindful of the fact that there is a niche market that relates to our own beef and we would want to participate in that sector because we are GMO-free in terms of our stock-feeds and this we have indicated in the sense that we have remained firm in terms of the content as it relates to GMO material.
“I also want to clarify that this is a Cabinet position as it relates to GMO that we will not allow the introduction of GMO materials.”
Dr Made said the livestock sector had great potential to contribute to economic growth.
“In the coming seven days or so I will be announcing a national strategy relating to the livestock sector, this is assuming that Cabinet will be considering this matter in the coming days,” he said.
“We must focus on the livestock sector in its totality because Zimbabwe holds great potential in the sector.”
Dr Made said that the livestock sector could create downstream industries that use by-products from livestock such as hides.
He said delivery of maize to the Grain Marketing Board had increased by up to four times more than what was delivered in the same period last year.
Farmers have delivered 5 400 metric tonnes of maize to the GMB so far, compared to the 1 600 metric tonnes that had been delivered during the same period last year.
Zimbabwe needs 500 000 metric tonnes for the strategic grain reserves.
He said Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa had been tasked to mobilise resources to ensure timely payment of farmers for grain delivered.
In the past, Government delayed payment to farmers, negatively affecting their operations.