Meat shortages loom

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

ZIMBABWE’S livestock industry is under strain and shortages of pork, chicken and beef are imminent after the price of feed shot up following the removal of grain subsidies by government, an industry official has warned.

At a recent meeting held by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) cautioned that the viability of the industry was under threat because costs of livestock feed had become unsustainable.

“By just changing, overnight, the grain marketing policies without consultations to the commercial livestock sector, which has been a major partner of government and GMB (Grain Marketing Board), the farmer has been introduced to a big shock. Now, there is a risk to the billion dollar industry,” LMAC economist Reneth Mano told NewsDay yesterday. He also confirmed the meeting of business membership organisations on Tuesday.

“And the main threat really is if you are a poultry breeder and you are producing day-olds and you cannot access maize at affordable prices, you may have to cut production. If you are into piggery, with imported breeding stock, like a lot of our medium and large-scale producers, when you cannot feed pigs you may have to scale down or kill some of them to convert into pork.”

For beef, where the animals rely on imported soya meal, the costs have cascaded even higher.

Authorities in Harare, who are battling to control government spending, removed subsidies on grain which saw the price of maize and soyabeans jump from ZWL$250 to ZWL $726 and ZWL $780 to ZWL $918 per tonne, respectively.

“So, stockfeed prices went up by about 20%, which, in my opinion, is a reaction to the change in the maize and grain pricing,” Mano said.

“Using our basic demand, meat sales could fall by as much as 20% or 30%.”

According to the LMAC, Zimbabwe has annual demand of around 91 million birds, 266 000 slaughter cows and 140 000 pigs.

The country’s demand for stockfeed is at a yearly estimate of 450 000 tonnes.

Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Vangelis Haritatos said government would engage stockfeed producers and work with livestock farmers to find a solution to the industry.