ZIMBABWE faces a total ban of its beef exports to the European Union (EU) if it fails to immediately find a solution to problems rocking the agricultural sector, and bee
f production in particular.
Zimbabwe was suspended from exporting beef to the EU three years ago after the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The country could resume exports once it met set standards but it now faces a total ban because of the period during which no measures have been taken.
Before the ban Zimbabwe had a 9 100-tonne beef export quota to the EU.
Industry experts said the chaos in the agricultural sector had resulted in Zimbabwe failing to meet EU standards, particularly the system of identification, registration and labelling of bovine animals.
“The first requirement for all operators and organisations marketing fresh or frozen beef or veal is to label it with individual traceability codes which may be the identification number of the animal from which the meat is derived or an identification number relating to a group of animals,” a beef industry expert said.
He said continued farm seizures and destruction of equipment had resulted in producers failing to maintain slaughterhouses and de-boning plants in conditions which conform to EU standards.
“The situation has been exacerbated by the uncontrolled movement of cattle and wildlife since the inception of the land reform programme, resulting in the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD) that has forced us to suspend beef exports,” he said.
The Cattle Producers Association (CPA) said the chaos in the agricultural sector had destroyed the internationally acceptable beef exporting facilities and had made FMD uncontrollable.
“FMD has still not been brought under control in some areas,” the CPA said in its annual report.
“Vaccine has been in short supply to do vaccinations consistently but it is also recognised that vaccination alone does not control FMD. Only restrictions on movement can achieve this.”
The CPA said the continued farm seizures, harassment and eviction of farmers from their properties had forced producers to slaughter large numbers of cattle, including pedigree animals genetically adapted to the environment.
Zimbabwe suspended all beef exports to the EU in August 2001 following the outbreak of FMD.
EU spokesman Josiah Kusena confirmed that Zimbabwe beef exports were still suspended.
“Beef exports are still suspended,” Kusena said. “It is Zimbabwe’s duty to inform the EU that they have managed to control FMD. The EU will then send a veterinary inspection mission. Once it is satisfied with the situation on the ground, exports would resume.”