Walter Nyamukondiwa Mash West Bureau
GOVERNMENT has laid the foundation for the recovery and growth of cattle breeding and off-shoot industries through the setting up of the Centre of Excellence in Animal Breeding and Reproductive Technologies at Chinhoyi University of Technology.
The centre, launched by President Mnangagwa last week, will form the backbone for research into animal genetics, sperm harvesting from pedigree bulls and their preservation for roll-out to communal, small-scale and commercial farmers.
This will see the establishment of provincial and district sperm banks providing artificial insemination services across the country before eventually cascading to the ward level.
Speaking at the launch of the Biotechnology and Advanced Cattle Reproductive Technologies programme at CUT Farm in Chinhoyi last week, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos said the move would put Zimbabwe’s beef industry back on the map.
“We visited the state-of-art facilities which include a large modern laboratory, as well as the farm,” he said.
“This programme feeds into correcting and improving our genetics and, therefore, quality of our national herd whilst contributing an entire value chain that starts with the farmer at village level and feeds not only into our local consumption market, but very importantly our export market.”
Zimbabwe’s beef herd is estimated to be worth about $3,2 billion with an average live weight of around 350kg and potential exports of around $160 million annually.
The quality of the country’s cattle has progressively declined over the years owing to poor farming methods, including inbreeding, leading to susceptibility to diseases and a decrease in stature.
With an array of about 12 pedigree bulls already having their sperm harvested for processing, Deputy Minister Haritatos said, this was a statement of Zimbabwe’s intent to reclaim its position in cattle breeding.
Among the breeds available are the Brahman, Boran, Mashona, Tuli, Simbra, Bonsmara, Simmental and Beefmaster.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said the centre possessed modern technology to match those in developed countries, saying once complete it would be the hub of industry producing ancillary items of breeding, including vaccines and specialised feed.
CUT vice chancellor Professor David Simbi said the centre was a translation of theoretical knowledge into tangible goods and services through use of technology.
The project was initiated by Dr Fungai Chatiza and her colleagues in the Department of Animal Production and Technology before it was adopted by the university and later Government.