ZIMBABWE’s cattle herd continues to decline and prospects that the beef industry is likely to recover are dim, says a senior official from the Cattle Producers Association (CPA).
The official yesterday said the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks further worsened prospects for much-needed foreign currency earnings.
“The foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks continue to dog the industry,” he said. “Our cattle industry like all other sectors in this economy is on the verge of collapse despite the willingness by some farmers to bring the industry back on its feet.”
He said several trips had been made to Malaysia in a bid to try and win that market after Zimbabwe had lost out on the lucrative European Union (EU) export deal.
The official said beef exports to South Africa and Libya had also been halted because of the foot-and-mouth outbreaks in Mashonaland.
The EU has said the ban on Zimbabwean beef to the region would not be lifted until the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks were brought under control.
This put paid to reports that “millions in foreign currency” would be chalked up soon by the cash-strapped government.
In an interview the Head of the European Commission to Zimbabwe Francesca Mosca said: “Zimbabwe imposed a self ban on beef exports to the European Union since 2001 and this has not been lifted. The ban was related to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Before the ban was imposed, Zimbabwe had a beef export quota to the EU of 9 100 tonnes per year under the ‘Beef and Veal Protocol’ under the Lome IV Convention.”
Mosca said this quota was worth more than $2 billion.
“In 2001, before the ban, Zimbabwe had exported around 4 500 tonnes worth about $1,5 billion,” Mosca said. “In 2002 the European Commission spent 17,2 million euro on projects in Zimbabwe and 28,6 million euro have so far been approved for projects in 2003. Apart from this, the amount spent on/approved for food aid during 2002 and 2003 is 79,5 million euro.”
An export deal with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) hangs in the balance because the Congolese are allegedly not paying government the agreed United States dollars, preferring “barter deals” instead.
In a major U-turn about two years ago, seen by business executives as a political “appeasement arrangement for disgruntled indigenous businessmen”, government gave Farirayi Quality Foods (Pvt) Ltd the go-ahead to also export beef.
The company, whose boss is John Mapondera, was allowed to export beef to Libya, following President Robert Mugabe’s visit to that country in search of fuel and “alternative markets other than the EU”.