The programme will be launched in 2016 and will focus on financing specific detailed projects.
Speaking to GlobalMeatNews, the EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme said: “Our hope is that the whole value chain will benefit. A critical component…will see us providing support to communal livestock farmers. Further to this, state-owned enterprises like the Cold Storage Company (CSC) and private sector players will also benefit.”
However, Van Damme said the EU would conduct an extensive livestock scoping exercise before implementing the programme: “We will conduct an audit to ascertain the current role of livestock institutions and seek to establish their future role by engaging various stakeholders,” he said. “This will enable us to offer tailor-made assistance to institutions and communities, in light of their new agreed roles. This will also apply to livestock extension service providers in the country that stand to benefit from this programme.”
He said officials would design “a ‘logical framework’ that will guide us in the implementation… and will have clearly outlined objectives, goals and timelines.” The EU would also engage advisory boards, academia and industry experts to monitor the programme, he said.
Zimbabwe Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) economist Dr Chrispen Sukume said his organisation was involved in the EU’s preparatory work through a contract Brussels has signed with US-based non-governmental development organisation TechnoServe: “We are currently working with the EU through TechnoServe. We have looked at subsectors such as beef, stock feeds and poultry and we are now looking at pork production,” he said. Regarding poultry, Sukume said studies had highlighted a perennial shortage of day-old chicks.
Sukume said one solution could be encouraging small-scale local production - the current price of day-old chicks in the country is US$0.75, compared to South Africa’s US$0.50. He also urged the EU to look at increasing abattoir capacity in rural areas to boost frozen chicken supplies.
Meanwhile, Sukume said the beef sector remained a major challenge, with communal farmers taking over production in the past decade from commercial farmers. He noted that there was an abundance of ranching land which is not fully stocked.
“The EU should also look at ways we can conserve and build our national herd. There is high mortality in the communal herd due to drought, however the EU could facilitate for the purchase of these animals to be given to medium-scale producers, thereby benefiting both the communal and commercial farmers,” he suggested.
The economist urged the EU to consider how rural district council levies could be lowered for the benefit of communal farmers. He urged the EU to focus on low interest rate financing rather than grants: “If someone receives a grant, they can choose to waste it away; however concessionary financing ensures that we get value from the investment injected in the livestock value chain. Financing should therefore be awarded to merited farmers that are willing shoulder the risk of a loan,” he argued.
Former CSC MD and now MP for Bulawayo South constituency Eddie Cross called on the EU to concentrate on funding veterinary services: “There are so many needs in the livestock sector; however I would urge the project coordinators to focus on the veterinary situation in the country. This would take care of the constant scourge of diseases which include [health issues related to] hard water, anthrax and foot-and-mouth.
“There is no hope for the livestock sector in the country if we do not rectify this, “We have the human resources, what we lack are the physical resources such as dip tanks; €40m could do a great deal in this regard.”