NEW farmers failed to take advantage of the return of the livestock show to the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) where less than 20 cows are being exhibited in the livestock section.
Only two donkeys are evident in the livestock display that is being exhibited at the waning international showcase.
The livestock section of the ZITF is a traditional crowd puller and thousands of people usually flock to the animal stands to view prize bulls and other livestock on exhibition.
However, this year about three-quarters of the cattle pens are empty while stands for rabbits and sheep are deserted.
The prize bulls that used to attract crowds in the past were nowhere to be seen while a few cows belonging to Agricultural Research and Extension Services (Arex) held fort at the Bulawayo Agricultural Show stand.
Economic commentator and MDC economic adviser, Eddie Cross, said the poor turnout at the livestock show was due to the absence of former white commercial farmers.
“The commercial farmers who are supposed to support the agricultural show are not operating at the moment and there is no chance that you will get any livestock for the show under the circumstances,” Cross said.
He said even the industrial side of the ZITF was pathetic because companies were struggling to survive under harsh economic conditions.
“Until we get back to normal political and economic activities there will not be a change to the situation on the ground and exhibiting at the ZITF is a waste of time as exporters are closing shop,” Cross said.
An Arex official told the Zimbabwe Independent that all the cows at this year’s show belonged to his organisation.
“All the animals in the few stands that you see here belong to Arex and we are yet to see whether other farmers will bring animals for exhibition before the close of the trade fair,” said the official.
The livestock show was cancelled last year after the outbreak of foot and mouth and anthrax.
There was a marked absence of big organisations at this year’s showcase owing to the troubled economy.
Eleven countries are taking part at ZITF 2004. They include Botswana, Malawi, Kenya, Italy, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, China and Austria.
A total of 627 local exhibitors are taking part.