By Elita Chikwati
Government has challenged livestock producers to adhere to good animal husbandry practices to produce quality beef and milk that can compete on the international market to increase their income. This was said by Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Deputy Minister Davis Marapira, who is attending a cattle show in France.
Deputy Minister Marapira said Zimbabwe was lagging behind other beef producers and Government recently launched the Command Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme to boost production.
“Zimbabwe should be abreast with the latest animal husbandry developments. This involves excellent animal management. It also involves good pasture management, top quality genetics and disease control.
“Farmers should avoid in-breeding. The country should make a serious paradigm shift. We are 20 years behind what the world leaders in livestock production are doing. France has 19 million head of cattle and 3,7 million are dairy cattle.
“They produce beef cattle with a dressed weight mass of 400kilogrammes in average. In Zimbabwe the average weight is 100kg. The price of slaughter cattle is averaging 6 000 Euro per animal,” he said.
Deputy Minister Marapira expressed concern over the increased livestock deaths as a result of tick-borne diseases. The country has lost more than 2 000 cattle due to January disease (Theileriosis).
The major challenge, according to the Department of Veterinary Services, was irregular dipping. Most dip tanks were not adhering to the recommended weekly dipping schedule due to lack of dipping chemicals.
There was also low turnout at dip tanks as most farmers are not willing to take their cattle for dipping at the communal dip tanks.
The department was also worried that there were fake chemicals on the market and some farmers could not tell the difference as the packaging and labels are the same.
“Farmers should dip their cattle and also seek advice from veterinary experts to avoid losses. They should also buy dipping chemicals from reputable retailers,” he said.
Government recently launched the $300 million Command Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme, which was expected to cover all aspects of livestock, such as beef cattle, dairy cows, pigs, sheep, goats, fish, wildlife and small stock such as poultry and rabbits.
The fund would also go towards foot-and-mouth disease fences, resuscitation and establishment of dip tanks, watering points and livestock infrastructure.
The programme was expected to boost crop production for stock- feed, resuscitation of the leather industry, and production of tallow for soap. It was also expected to boost production of blood and bone meal, which the country was currently importing.