ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe is witnessing a remarkable surge in beef production, recording a 13% increase in the number of cattle slaughtered in the 12 months ending in September 2023, according to Finance, Investment Promotion, and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube.

According to the minister, 339,000 cattle were processed during the past year, up from 299,000 in the previous year.

He attributed the surge to the government’s commitment to supporting the industry’s growth which has led to several initiatives, including investments in disease control, infrastructure development, and facilitating market access for beef producers.

In addition, he noted that the exploration of international trade agreements and partnerships is expected to expand beef exports, especially into markets across Southern Africa and Europe.

“In addition to government support, Zimbabwean farmers have embraced improved livestock management practices, leading to enhanced cattle growth and overall health,” he noted.

“Proactive measures to control livestock diseases, notably Foot and Mouth, have contributed to healthier cattle populations.”

Minister Ncube also highlighted the substantial investments made in upgrading abattoirs, transportation, and storage facilities, streamlining the processing and distribution of beef.

Economist Dr Prosper Chitambara emphasized the significant economic implications of the beef production surge, citing the potential to bolster foreign exchange earnings and support the nation’s balance of payments.

“Moreover, higher beef production ensures a stable and secure meat supply for domestic consumption, playing a crucial role in maintaining Zimbabwe’s food security and helping manage inflation as prices become steadier,” he said.

“The expansion of the beef industry is expected to benefit rural communities by providing a more lucrative source of income and improving living standards.”

However, the industry faces challenges that need addressing for sustained growth.

The government has therefore been urged to ensure the quality and safety of beef products, maintain high-level disease control measures, and address environmental and sustainability concerns associated with cattle farming.

Earlier this year, a similar call for increased production was made in the pork sector.

Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development permanent secretary Professor Obert Jiri urged small-scale pork producers to upscale production along all value chain components to boost productivity and profitability.

He emphasized the importance of creating value for smallholder farmers and encouraged them to process meat directly, rather than transporting live animals to markets.

Prof. Jiri also challenged farmers to build abattoirs and register their industries, which would further enhance employment opportunities.

Livestock Meat Advisory Council executive administrator Dr. Reneth Mano urged for the promotion of value addition in livestock farming, emphasizing its potential to create employment opportunities, enhance food security, and stimulate economic growth.

“Farmers can tap into new markets and command higher prices for their products by engaging in value addition activities, such as meat processing, packaging, and grading,” he said.