Livingstone Marufu —
Government is rolling out a US$150 million livestock programme covering restocking, equipment, pasture development and resuscitation of the Cold Storage Commission.
Some 600 000 livestock farmers in Matabeleland and Masvingo are already stacking hay and paddocking as part of the initiative dubbed Command Livestock.
Government wants to catapult Zimbabwe’s beef industry back to annual exports of 14 000 tonnes which were last achieved in 1999.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made told The Sunday Mail that the Preferential Trade Area Bank and the private sector were funding the programme.
“We have made the livestock industry an appendage of Command Agriculture, and have secured funds for that. This includes dairy cattle, piggery, poultry and goats. As we all know, livestock is grown in the same way that we grow crops. Inputs such as vaccines and medicines are required in livestock rearing, and the requisite infrastructure is being put in place.
“This infrastructure includes paddocks, feeding areas and water points.
‘‘We are also focusing on machinery and equipment that relates to livestock rearers. There is what we call sweetveld, which you can harvest to make hay, but we need machinery for us to be able to do that.”
Sweetveld is a grazing area with highly nutritious red grass that helps animals gain and maintain optimum bodyweight.
Dr Made said: “Command Livestock puts much emphasis on Matabeleland and Masvingo, with Manicaland and Mashonaland also included, but on a smaller scale. Government is also in the process of mobilising US$48 million to resuscitate CSC facilities across the country.
“In addition, we are resuscitating all dip tanks, paddocks and livestock-related infrastructure in communal areas to ensure our livestock is reared on the best possible facilities to guarantee quick growth. Our old and new veterinary personnel are also being equipped technically so that they have a strong know-how regarding commercial livestock management.”
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said: “We commend Government for rolling out such an enormous scheme, and all competent farmers should benefit. The programme will see our national herd improve every year and, consequently, exports to Europe and South Africa will increase.”
Zimbabwe’s national herd has been depleted over the years due to successive droughts which have choked beef exports.
Economic decline also resulted in the CSC failing to meet technical export requirements.