CABINET has approved the proposed Livestock Growth Plan (2020-2025) which seeks to grow the livestock sector to a US$ 1.9 billion economy by 2025.
Livestock production in Zimbabwe is an important source of income and a safety net for hundreds of thousands of people, particularly rural women and youth, and is a significant contributor to agricultural GDP.
“The livestock sector has to be run as a business to ensure that it makes significant contribution to Zimbabwe’s socio-economic growth. In order to resolve the limiting factors in the Livestock Sector, collaboration amongst Government, and the private sector and development partners will be encouraged.
Key strategies of the Livestock Development Plan entail the following: an animal nutrition programme; a genetics improvement programme; an animal health programme; a climate change adaptation and small stock programme; the development of market and trade infrastructure; and resource mobilization,” read a statement released after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
The livestock sector is extremely important to the country because, meat, milk, and eggs provide sources of high quality animal protein and ensures food and nutrition security of millions of people.
In recent decades, the world food economy has seen a shift towards increased consumption of animal-source foods; and against the backdrop of increasing world population, urbanization and globalization providing significant opportunities for countries like Zimbabwe with vast livestock resources.
However, apart from a handful of countries in Southern Africa Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa, which enjoy access to the lucrative export markets for meat, most countries have not been able to unlock the full potential of their livestock resources.
Some of the challenges livestock farmers have endured include the endemic presence of trade sensitive diseases, weak and under resourced veterinary services; lack of developed livestock value chains and related infrastructure; lack of appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks; and lack of technical expertise and capacities for effective animal disease control”.
A recent Zim Agriculture survey says small scale farmers keep livestock as a store of wealth and as a sign of wealth and hence sees slaughtering as wastage.
With this observation, it therefore means that small scale farmers are not sweating value in their livestock something which could happen if they were slaughtering and restocking.
The report notes that there is need to train farmers with a view of building their capacity to run animal rearing as a serious business and create strong value chains linkages between farmers, the Cold Storage Company, meat processors and abattoirs.