Minister regrets effects of COVID-19 and El Niño on livestock production

The Vice Minister of AGRICULTURE, David Marapira, regretted the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 era and the current El Niño phenomenon.

Speaking at the Country-Specific Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Feed and Fodder in Harare on Monday, Marapira said that apart from contributing to low productivity and high mortality rate among animals, during the period there has also been a shortage of raw materials, inputs and shrinking export markets. .

“The livestock sector, like all other sectors in Zimbabwe, has not been spared from the negative effects of the current and ongoing global crisis, such as recurring droughts and other climatic vagaries, the effects of the COVID-19 era and war between Russia and Ukraine. he said.

“These have contributed, directly or indirectly, to the low production and productivity of the basic source of feed for grazing livestock has been negatively affected by droughts, the manufacture of feed for white livestock has been negatively affected in terms availability of raw materials and other inputs, labor. and market access.

“The crises have exposed significant weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the country’s feed and fodder supply. Feed constitutes around 70-80% of the production cost of livestock.”

He noted that the sector also faces other challenges such as financing, low genetic diversity and inadequate nutrition of livestock, among other problems that impact the cost of production.

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“The main challenges affecting the livestock sector include inadequate availability of livestock nutrition (sedges, grasses, fodder, water and degraded grasslands), animal health, sanitary and food security issues; Poor genetic diversity; Limited access to adequate infrastructure to access lucrative national, regional and international markets and inadequate financial resources,” he noted.

He noted that the government has tried to address some of the challenges through the Livestock Growth Plan.

“To address these challenges, the government prepared the Livestock Growth Plan, a plan with strategies to improve livestock production and productivity. One of the pillars addressed in the growth plan is Livestock Nutrition,” he stated.

“This is a giant step towards the implementation of the project, as we strive to build resilience in the feed and fodder sector and reduce livestock deaths due to hunger,” Marapira said.

Marapira said the program is in line with NDS1 and emphasized its implementation, adding that the livestock sector contributes significantly to Zimbabwe’s economy.

“The growth of the subsector has been characterized by low production and productivity, as evidenced by low demand, low fertility, high mortality and morbidity, low carcass weight, poor quality and the inability to compete effectively in the markets. export markets”.

He noted that with the right plan, the smallholder sector has the potential to become the leading performance indicator as most of the livestock is within the sector.

“Zimbabwe’s smallholder system has the potential to grow and become the leading performance indicator of the livestock sector. The livestock sector has been identified as an important element of the Rural Transformation and Food Systems Strategy. Livestock and livestock products contribute significantly to Zimbabwe’s economy, with livestock accounting for between 35 and 38 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contributed to the agricultural sector. Sector,” he said.

He said livestock farming provides food security and serves as a family investment for rural livelihoods.

She called for the inclusion of women in rural livelihoods and food systems.

“It is estimated that up to 45 percent of rural households own cattle, between 60 and 80 percent own goats, and more than 80 percent own chickens. The importance of livestock in rural livelihoods and food security lies in the supply of meat, milk, eggs, hides and skins, draft power and manure. They also act as strategic domestic investments.”

“Finally, as we move towards inclusion and reducing hunger and malnutrition, the Government of Zimbabwe realizes the important role of women in rural livelihoods and food systems,” she said.

“This continental initiative is therefore very welcome in Zimbabwe and is in line with the livestock growth plan which was designed to address the challenges plaguing the livestock sub-sector.”

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