ZIMBABWE – The government of Zimbabwe is putting in place programs and initiatives to raise its cattle herd in an effort to resuscitate its beef market and completely substitute importation.

In its hay days, Zimbabwe used to be a major producer of beef in Africa, raking in about US$50 million yearly from exports to the lucrative European market, particularly the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

The sector which had flourished in the 1990s collapsed in the 2000s following outbreaks of foot-and-mouth and is now trying to gain a footing under the Emmerson Mnangagwa government.

The government of zimbabwe targets to grow the national herd to 6 million cattle head from the current 5.5 million with the aid of these programs.

To achieve its goal, Zambia intends to specifically combat various issues in the meat sector such as genetic improvement of the herd, disease resilience and feed availability, according to the director of livestock Development, Alban Mhindurwa in a recent interview.

“Support initiatives towards livestock production through distribution of animal stocks to rural farmers as seed capital is transforming and empowering rural communities and will be expanded in 2023,” Mhindurwa said.

 Several steps have already been taken to support the country’s livestock sector including the supply of fodder and improvement of the dip tank infrastructure.

Through the Presidential fodder bank program, 300,000 rural smallholder cattle farmers around the country have been supplied with inputs to produce enough fodder this season.

The department of livestock development issued farmers with standard input packages that comprised climate-smart pasture and climate-smart feed options to promote on-farm feed formulation.

“The presidential fodder bank program is contributing to herd building by reducing cattle deaths, improving carcass quality and weight and improving conception rates in cows through maintenance of good body condition,” said Alban Mhindurwa.

This programme together with the Presidential Livestock Input Support scheme is set to alleviate hunger in the nation due to cattle deaths.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development has also initiated the Dip Resuscitating Programme to improve basic dip tank infrastructure in a bid to protect livestock against diseases.

The Theirelia BOLVAC vaccination programme was also recently launched to implement the Government’s National Integrated Ticks and tick-borne disease control strategy.

Through the program, Zimbabwe plans to vaccinate the country’s animals against tick-borne related illnesses, a major threat to the growth and development of the livestock sector.

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