Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
AT least six countries are making enquiries on how they can help Zimbabwe revive its livestock sector as part of the Command Livestock Programme that will be launched by the Government in the coming months.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said a number of initiatives that would be spearheaded by the Command Livestock Programme would see the recovery of the country’s livestock sector.
“All these enquiries coming from China, Russia, France, Poland and the Middle East have to do with the resuscitation of our livestock sector. Of the matter arising from these inquiries is the resuscitation of our abattoirs, then there is the desire by Italy, France, Russia and the Middle East to put up state-of-the-art abattoirs because we have to enter the European market so we need to meet international standards first,” said Dr Made.
He said investment in abattoir infrastructure would enable the country to stop imports of deboned meat products which was rampant as local abattoirs fail to invest in deboning machinery.
“We are not going to import meat products from outside the Southern region just as we are now doing,” said Dr Made.
He said the country would also work together with Namibia and Botswana to develop its livestock sector.
“In the bilateral agreements we had with Namibia, Namibia has put a request that we look at their livestock. So we are going to be sharing mutual agreements with Namibia as well as Botswana aimed at developing our livestock sector. Namibia has a special breeds of goat and beef we need,” said Dr Made.
He said the recently appointed Cold Storage Company (CSC) board should be given a chance to turnaround the fortunes of the firm.
“Let’s give the CSC the chance to now work and I want to see very good development of the CSC and modernisation of its slaughter houses so that they are properly prepared to slaughter and service farmers. The option is to go to Europe, but to go to Europe and the world at large we must meet standards. We have to make sure we control the disease (Foot and Mouth Disease),” said Dr Made.
He said the Command Livestock document was now ready and would be presented to Cabinet soon.
“I am very pleased to say that the documentation on Command Livestock is now ready. The document has been presented to the Food Security and Nutrition Cabinet Committee and thereafter it will be deliberated on in Cabinet. Remember Command Livestock Programme has long been planned, what was remaining was to do the document so that farmers across the country would benefit from its funding with very low interest rates the same as the one for crops,” Dr Made said.
He said Command Livestock would see funding being channeled towards infrastructural rehabilitation and development and distribution of all necessary inputs for all forms of livestock.
“The livestock we would want to start with is beef and dairy, that’s on the large stock. The second aspect will be small stock, this will include poultry, piggery and other small stock such as rabbits, turkeys, ducks, all forms of small stock that make it easy to grow and quickly put in the market. It will be comprehensive just like we were dealing with crop farmers. A farmer will also need breeding stock but we are not going to rush into saying we will import. We have 5,6 million head of cattle, we have to make those animals more productive,” said Dr Made.
The programme would also see the distribution of mechanisation equipment mostly utilised in livestock farming.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Paddy Zhanda who is responsible for livestock production said Command Livestock would go a long towards improving the marketing of livestock in communal areas.
“We suggested various projects within Command Livestock, all aimed at one thing — to improve the commercialisation aspect of livestock particularly within the communal rural communities, with an injection of new bloodlines through injection of new bulls, artificial insemination. We are also going to embark on the rehabilitation of boreholes and dip tanks as well because these go hand in hand. This will be part of the programme but also within the Command Livestock, we want to look at the long-term financing of livestock farming,” said Dep Minister Zhanda.
Speaking at the International Business Conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Exhibition Centre on Wednesday Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the Command Livestock model would be tabled before Cabinet in a few weeks time and if approved will then be rolled out across the country. Once approved, he said the Government would clarify the modalities of the programme implementation to livestock farmers and other stakeholders.
Department of Livestock Production and Development (DLPD) director, Mr Bothwell Makodza said Command Livestock was likely to benefit farmers from Matabeleland region more.