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Zimbabwean Cattle Farmers Destock as Drought Worsens

13 January 2016

ZIMBABWE - Cattle producers in Zimbabwe are destocking as drought conditions bite into the beef industry, leading to an increase in the number of slaughtered animals, with the number of sheep and goats slaughtered in the nine months period to September also rising by a massive 35 per cent, writes Tawanda Korombo.

The European Union (EU) has committed to supporting Zimbabwe with its livestock growing sector starting this year. The EU will provide financial support for communal livestock growers and also boost support for government organisations involved in livestock production.

Zimbabwe is battling to contain an outbreak of foot and mouth that is threatening its cattle population. Interestingly, the drought hit areas of Matabeleland are the most affected by the outbreak of foot and mouth.

While the number of cattle, sheep and goats slaughtered for consumption inside the country increased, the cumulative number of pigs slaughtered declined. The pig industry is dominated by Colcom, a pork processing company in Zimbabwe.

“The total number of cattle slaughtered in the formal sector stood at 67,170, compared to 63,721 during the same period in 2014. The increase in the number of beasts slaughtered is attributed to the high levels of destocking in drought hit areas,” the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said in a third quarter report released Wednesday.

Most of the beef producing regions in Zimbabwe had been affected by the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease. Experts have attributed the spread of the disease to “the movement of cattle across regions of the country”. Neighbouring countries Botswana and South Africa have had to make contributions to help Zimbabwe contain the outbreak.

Feed-stock supplies for livestock in Zimbabwe are also stretching, with local soya bean production constrained and the country having to switch to imports from India, according to the central bank.

“Malawi and Zambia, the country’s usual sources of genetic modifications free (GM free) soya meal had poor harvests in the previous season, leaving India as the only source of the commodity,” the central bank said.

Zimbabwe is currently importing maize from Zambia in a bid to address the deficit of 700,000 tonnes for both human and livestock consumption, the government said, adding that “there will be sufficient stocks until March next year if imports continue to flow at the current pace”.

Zimbabwean cattle farmers are also struggling to secure ready markets for their animals as well as lack of government support structures for producers. The collapse of the Cold Storage Commission (CSC), a government parastatal that provided support and a ready market for cattle farmers has collapsed, according to industry players.

The central bank observed in its report that the CSC “continues to be overshadowed by private abattoirs in terms of slaughterings as the parastatal remains heavily indebted and undercapitalised”. Other experts have called on the government to privatise the CSC and allow it to operate on a commercial basis.

Ngoni Chinogara, chief executive officer of the CSC said recently that “partners must come in, they should invest in the production of cattle” through the CSC. He added that the CSC “used to run the cattle finance scheme and it should be revived” to grow cattle production capacity in the country.

The number of sheep and goats slaughtered during the third quarter of 2015 stood at 6776, significant a 35.4 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2014. This brought up the number of sheep and goats slaughtered during the nine month period to September 2015 to 19,846, representing a 52.7 per cent increase contrasted with the same period a year earlier.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation Development in Zimbabwe estimates that during the third quarter of 2015, the total number of pigs slaughtered through formal channels increased by 24 per cent to 36,632.

“On a cumulative basis, the total number of pigs slaughtered through the formal channels declined by 0.6 per cent to 98,305 during the first nine months of 2015. Colcom (a Zimbabwean company listed on the local stock exchange) continues to be the dominant player in pork production,” the reserve bank said in its report.

Twanda Karombo

Tawanda Karombo
Freelance Writer,


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