LAST week a new pair of hands to steer the country was inaugurated into office-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
May I take this opportunity to congratulate all Zimbabweans for this milestone and most importantly the peaceful nature that was exhibited by the nation at large during this critical period in the development of the country.
It is against the optimism exhibited by the majority of people that this pen wishes to restate issues that have been and continue to bedevil the livestock industry.
I find it prudent to state the issues right from the beginning so that the new Government is informed of these issues and possibly find solutions. Chief among these issues is the revival of the Cold Storage Company.
We have mentioned it before and we shall mention it again this time that CSC remains a vital institution within the livestock sector and it is simply unacceptable to let it remain in a comatose state for so long. It is my hope that the new pair of hands on the national steering wheel will give this issue a fresh ear.
CSC is expected to provide competition within the sector which seems to have very few big players at the top level and hence allegations of collusion are a permanent thing among farmers as they suspect that abattoirs collude to suppress the prices.
We wish to have a CSC which will once more be able to reach out to smallholder farmers in remote areas and offer competitive prices as well as making it easy to do business in the livestock industry. Farmers long for the restocking and breed improvement programmes that CSC used to lead.
Secondly farmers wish for the Government to take decisive and conclusive action as it relates to control of diseases of economic importance such as foot and mouth disease (FMD).
This disease has terrorised livestock farmers in the country especially in the southern parts with serious economic consequences as areas are quarantined during outbreaks and trade suspended for some time.
This is a disease whose control and management lies squarely on Government shoulders and hence the call for the new Government to make serious commitments to deal with the problem. In this regard the veterinary department needs to be fully equipped in terms of equipment as well as human resources so that they can control and manage this disease of economic importance as well as other livestock diseases.
Another important issue that smallholder livestock farmers are always crying about is water provision for their animals. Livestock mortalities are usually recorded in most years during the dry season as water sources dry up.
This year could have been an exception due to the high rainfall which was received almost across the whole country. I wish to register that Government needs to invest in improving water provision for livestock farmers especially the reticulation mechanisms.
There are demonstrations on solar powered boreholes which were installed by development partners in some districts and are providing water to livestock and these have worked extremely well with huge relief to farmers.
These can be replicated in other areas so that where ever there is a borehole it can be equipped with solar and the problem of drinking water for the animals is solved.
Rangeland management and improvement is another area which needs attention from the Government if we are to maintain or grow the national livestock herd.
There has to be deliberate programme to address rangeland issues with a view of improving the management and reinforcing the veld with other palatable and resilient grass species.
The absence of clear rangeland management strategies and programmes is resulting in deterioration of rangelands even in the resettlement areas which previously had good grazing lands.
Another issue in the livestock industry is the issue of compliance costs as well as compliance procedures which make it difficult to do business in this sector. There are complains about too many levies and taxes that are paid to a lot of Government bodies resulting in high compliance cost.
Why should a business person pay license fees or levies to EMA, AMA, RDC, VET, DLPD and others when all these are Government bodies. It will benefit farmers and the livestock sector if such anomalies in taxation are rectified.
These are some of the few but very important issues that livestock farmers look forward to the new government to address. Uyabonga umntakaMaKhumalo.
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