Zimbabwe — Cattle producers have been urged to increasetheir production by implementing sound management and animal health strategiesthrough the development of sustainable breeding programmes.
Speaking during the Windmill Cattle field day at Doon SideFarm in Mutorashanga last week, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Cde DavidChapfika, said the Cold Storage Company had resumed beef exports to regional andfar East markets such as Hong Kong.
“Malaysian veterinarians visited our country recentlyto inspect some of the CSC facilities with a view to importing beef from here.We are hopeful that in the near future, this market will also be available to us,”he said. He added that these strategies would involve developing sustainablebreeding programmes and adopting high management standards to achieve qualityand maximum breeds.
“Pedigree cattle play a very important part in thecattle industry-in recent years, this component has decreased significantly.There is urgent need to protect all remaining pedigree herds and to expand theirnumbers by encouraging the introduction of new players into this field,” hesaid. Cde Chapfika said the most rapid way of increasing production in tropicalcountries like Zimbabwe was to improve the management and husbandry of animals.
He said land reforms, which decongested communal areas,brought challenges of veld fires and it is critical for the nation to addressthe degradation of lands through improved range land management. “We needto protect our grazing land from veld fires by creating fire guards andintroducing fire controls in the curriculum at agricultural colleges. “Theloss of valuable grass for grazing by uncontrolled bush fires must be stopped byevery possible means,” he said.
He added that a good beef breed can not perform under anenvironment that has been burnt out where there is poor nutrition, poor animaldisease control, and general poor management.
“To this effect, most breeding programmes have failedas the improvements in farmers’ management practices have lagged behind theimprovement in genetics. It is therefore, imperative that both Government andthe private sector join hands to educate farmers on good cattle management,”he said. Cde Chapfika said farmers were facing a major challenge in feedingtheir cattle when there is inadequate grazing that form the bulk of theirmaintenance diet in the dry season. He said there was also a shortage of stockfeeds in the country owing to the shortages of raw materials such as maize, soyabeans, wheat bran and cotton seed cake.
“Farmers must develop strategies to substitute theseraw materials if their cattle are to avoid malnutrition or at worst, starvation.Thin animals have poor reproductive performances, and limited resistance todiseases and parasites, all resulting in low performances or productivity,”he added. Cde Chapfika, however, urged companies that produce stock feed,pharmaceutical and dip chemical manufacturing industries to continue trainingfarmers which will have a long term positive impact on the live stock sector.”Training programmes should also be extended to cover other areas likeanimal health and breeding in order to give our farmers a complete package,”he said.
He added that the Government was working on creating anenvironment that is conducive for farmers to rebuild the national beef herd toabove pre-land reform period both in numbers and quality. “This will enableour country not only to achieve food self sufficiency, but to produce surplus toour local needs and benefit from foreign currency generated through exports tothe region and beyond.
“The Government will continue coming up with win-winpricing regime, like foreign currency from exports such as the Reserve Bank ofZimbabwe’s import parity pricing scheme,” he said.