Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government hopes to take advantage of the World Organisation for Animal Health’s decision to allow countries affected by Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) to conduct trade to resume its beef export.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Paddy Zhanda said the Cold Storage Company would seize the opportunity availed by the World Organisation for Animal Health’s regulations on trade measures, import or export procedures and veterinary certification which stipulates that countries affected by FMD be allowed to export their beef in particular markets.
He said the Government was making concerted efforts to explore regional beef markets for CSC as it bids to turn around fortunes of the ailing meat processor and marketer.
“It’s high on the agenda that we need to look at the regional markets in order to make sure that we export, our beef is of good quality and is required internationally and well respected despite the presence of Foot and Mouth Disease.
“The World Organisation for Animal Health has recognised that there are countries that live with FMD but they still must be trained therefore the issue of creating compartments for the purpose of exports is enshrined in that recognition,” said Deputy Minister Zhanda.
Zimbabwe stopped beef exports after the first case of FMD was clinically detected on 16 August 2000 in a cattle feedlot in south-western Zimbabwe. Prior to the outbreak, the country was known as an exporter of meat especially to the European market. The outbreaks have adversely affected the meat industry as Government struggles in vain to contain the severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock, which has significant economic impact.
Renowned livestock specialist Dr Ronny Sibanda said Zimbabwe meets most of the World Organisation for Animal Health’s requirements to export its beef.
“When it comes to exports there are things we have to ensure, firstly are we in a position to fulfill the requirements of World Organisation for Animal Health and on this one I can safely say we can because we can process in an EU approved abattoir, meet basic food requirements such as hygiene as well as extracting animals from areas free from FMD, which, however, are getting few,” said Dr Sibanda.
He said the country should also implement various measures to ensure that its beef is acceptable in export markets.
“We could also adopt a Commodity Based Trade, which means we ensure that the product is free of disease through deboning the meat, removing lymph nodes and putting the meat in defined cold temperatures and that the product satisfies disease freedom to the extent that we can trade and obviously we have to liaise with the market which we will deal with and ensure it accept it,” said Dr Sibanda.
He also said the country had the capacity to meet market demand considering the fact that it once exported 9 000 tonnes of beef to the EU before losing its export certificate but hinted that there was need to financial assist CSC to resume exports.
“CSC cannot supply the export market at the moment because it’s not financially capacitated. It can only do so if it partners with producers whereby the producers will be supplying cattle and the parastatal paying them because on the export market if you can’t be a consistent supplier you meet a lot of problems,” said Dr Sibanda.
The Government recently approved CSC’s business turnaround strategy, four years after the company made the proposals.
The company’s board had presented its strategy to Government in 2012. The strategy spelt out the roadmap to improve the business and included plans to mobilise funding internally through measures such as the disposal of idle assets in Harare, Kadoma and Gweru, with an estimated value of US$4,5 million. However, the strategy had not been approved as the Government wanted a forensic audit first before it granted the meat processor the green light.