Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
HARARE-Cabinet has approved a $300 million Special Programme on Livestock Production that is expected to run for between three and five years. The Command Agriculture Programme, the brainchild of First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, saw President Mugabe assign Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to supervise it. Livestock farmers from all sectors — communal to A2 and institutions including churches, Prisons and Police farms across the country — are expected to benefit.
A2 farmers are, however, expected to anchor the programme.
The programme will cover all aspects of livestock including beef cattle, dairy cows, pigs, sheep, goats, fish, wildlife and small stock such as poultry and rabbits.
The fund will also go towards foot-and-mouth disease fences, resuscitation and establishment of dip tanks, watering points and livestock infrastructure.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said the programme will boost crop production for stockfeeds, resuscitating the leather industry, and production of tally for soap. It is also expected to boost production of blood and bone meal which the country is currently importing.
“Cabinet has approved the programme submitted by the committee on Food Security and Nutrition chaired by vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“The programme has been on drawing board following the Special Maize programme for Import Substitution (Command Agriculture). The farmers who produce livestock across the country felt that crop production is important. Livestock is an enterprise across the country that requires that farmers be supported in a similar measure.
“There is no doubt the programme will surpass all other sectors in terms of the growth of economy, social and political activities and utilising human resources, machinery and equipment,” he said.
Dr Made said already the country had started receiving machinery such as balers and grass cutters from Brazil and these will be used by livestock producers.
“The committee on Food Security and Nutrition will work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development and Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services and departments such as the Environmental Management Agency and Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority among others,” he said.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care, public and private veterinary surgeons will play a big role because we will also deal with bio-safety issues.”
Dr Made said under the livestock programme the farmers will choose the appropriate activities to their interest and that of market.
“Government will not dictate the type of activity to be undertaken by farmers. Currently, organic chickens are the widely sort after in the country and outside especially in Europe, Russia and China.
“It is this aspect of wildlife that we are going to incorporate in a very strong way and this will be done systematically with necessary permits,” he said.
He said Cabinet will emphasise on the need for classical animal husbandry activities.
“To this end, the committee will be working with farmers in particular A2 farmers in Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, parts of Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland provinces.
“There are farmers practicing mixed farming. While some are doing exclusive livestock. This is the time for A2 farmers in livestock sector to make a contribution towards the economy,” he said.
Dr Made said the livestock programme will present an opportunity where certain land that is not suitable for cropping can be used while at the same time protecting the environment.
“This programme will see the re-introduction of the Cold Storage Commission which is separate from the Cold Storage Company, Dairy Marketing Board, Pig Industry Board and National Parks among others.
“VP Phelekezela Mphoko is spearheading activities of the re-establishments of the CSC board and company. It has been ongoing and now at an advanced stage.
“This is will see development with the Russian Federation. Russia and India are leaders in the use of cotton plant residue in stockfeeds. We are going to work with them in terms of beef. Russia has some mutual interest because it does not accept GMO in stockfeeds and we have a common ground in that aspect. China is going to work with us in some aspects of livestock,” he said. The livestock sector is also expected to boost biogas production.
The approved programme relates to massive development of biogas on a large scale both on production and use especially on dairy, piggery and poultry producers.
This will also contribute towards production of bio fertilisers.
On funding, Dr Made said Government will not accept funding which is above four percent interest.
“A lot of work will be undertaken relating to investment and recovery of loans and side marketing.”
Dr Made warned people against commenting issues they did not have adequate knowledge on as this would confuse farmers.
“Those who do not know on the subject should not talk on what they do not know. We want to guide farmers properly. Farmers will get important information through the committee and Ministry of Agriculture from those authorised to speak on the subject.” (source: The Herald)