Tinashe Nhari Business Reporter
The European Union is finalising a $110 million funding deal with the Government under the 2014-2020 National Indicative Programme for Livestock Policy Development.
Addressing the national stakeholder consultative workshop on the National Livestock Development Policy, EU representative Mr Monsieur Jorge Pereiro Pion said agriculture-based development is a key area targeted to be funded under the facility.
“Today marks a very important step for Zimbabwe in looking for concrete ways in which to boost the livestock sector,” he said.
“This includes support for policy development as we are confident about the potential of the sector and willingness and capacity of all the relevant stakeholders, to make the necessary effort towards turning the agricultural sector into a main driver of economic growth and poverty alleviation in Zimbabwe.”
He said developing a stronger livestock industry through better market linkages had many benefits which included improving incomes for smallholder farmers and creating employment opportunities.
The draft National Livestock Development Policy is a culmination and product of a series of provincial consultative workshops held with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
When approved, the policy will be the first ever National Livestock Development Policy in the history of livestock development in Zimbabwe.
Despite a decline in overall production livestock is still vital to rural livelihoods as more than 70 percent of Zimbabweans derive their livelihood from livestock.
The smallholder sector, which is mainly rural, is said to be holding most of the livestock population, with 90 percent of the cattle, 98 percent of the goats and 80 percent of the sheep but their contribution to national food, nutrition and income security is low.
In a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Mr Paddy Zhanda, Minister of Agriculture Dr Joseph Made said the livestock sector’s potential has not been fully exploited.
The national cattle herd currently stands at 5,3 million cattle, a 10 percent increase from a year ago.
“In 2014 agriculture is projected to contribute 10,7 percent to GDP to which the livestock sector is projected to contribute 21 percent,” he said.