ZIMBABWE - The Government continues to suffocate the beef industry in favor other agro-based industries despite the sector having potential to earn the country the much need foreign currency, beef producers have lamented.
According to AllAfrica, Zimbabwe used to earn $45 million annually through beef exports to the European Union when the Cold Storage Company was still the largest meat processor in Africa. Things changed at the turn of the century when government began its controversial land reform grab exercise.
Masvingo Beef Producers Association chairman, Robert Makado, said government has sidelined the industry since the land reform program despite the province being home to half of the country's total herd of cattle.
Mr Makado said the province has in excess of 2 million herds of cattle becoming the country's main producer of beef.
He added that the exorbitant taxes of $5 per hectare annually imposed on cattle farmers was not sustainable to beef producers who own over a thousand hectares of cattle ranches.
"Government does not take the beef industry seriously like what it does with other sectors particularly tobacco producers; some farmers in the province are paying over $7 500 in rentals only per year without factoring other costs which include purchasing of stock feeds.
"When tobacco farmers raise their concerns they are immediately addressed but when it comes to beef producers our concerns seem to land on deaf ears," Mr Makado said.
He applauded the $18 million extended by NSSA towards the revival of the Cold Storage Company as a positive development towards the growth of the industry as farmers had fallen prey to private abattoirs who are charging farmers uncompetitive rates.
"In Masvingo we have a state of the art CSC abattoir which is lying idle and it is our hope that the investment being poured in by NSSA will resuscitate the abattoir were farmers could also get returns which are at par with production costs," he said.
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