Home » Industry » Restore Zim Beef Export Standards [editorial]

THE Government, through the Cold Storage Company, used to earn around US$45 million from beef exports to the European Union until 2001 when the 9 100 tonne beef quota fell away owing to the outbreak of the foot and mouth disease (FMD).Following the outbreak of the FMD, the EU suspended beef exports from Zimbabwe until such time when it was convinced the FMD outbreak had been contained.

And it appears they are now convinced. There is no doubt that beef exports to the EU helped sustain the operations of the CSC and contributed greatly to economic growth.

Before the FMD outbreak, Zimbabwe was renowned as one of the few countries in the world to have good quality and tasty beef at a time when some countries had genetically-modified beef which did not appeal to many international markets. At that time again, our national cattle herd stood at around 5,5 million and the CSC never struggled for slaughter cattle.

It is against this background that we welcome reports that we could soon resume beef exports to the lucrative EU market as negotiations to that effect are said to be very aanced. Getting our beef export quota would be a positive development, not only in terms of the expected earnings but also in terms of the development of the livestock sector.

It means the CSC has to be revived without further delays. The company is on the verge of collapse, if it has not already collapsed. It no longer has any cattle of its own for slaughter largely because of mismanagement and a lack of innovation.

Most of its abattoirs scattered across the country have been closed because it had become costly to maintain them when there were no cattle to slaughter.

So, as the Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Joseph Made talks of impending resumption of beef exports to the EU, we must ensure we are very much prepared to be a global player in beef exports and that if the EU lifts the suspension we do not disappoint by failing to meet the agreed quota.

We cannot deny the fact that, as a country, we need as many income streams as possible to help turn around our economy that has suffered so hard from the effects of illegal economic sanctions imposed by the West. Indeed it is one thing celebrating the resumption of beef exports and it is another to be able to fulfil the quota.

It is also refreshing to note that Cabinet will soon discuss a national strategy on livestock production in preparation for the beef exports. This is the kind of commitment that is required when dealing with a matter of a national outlook.

There is no way we can leave it to the CSC in its current state, as it would obviously fail to deliver, especially given that we will be competing for the lucrative EU market with other countries such as Botswana and Namibia, which have a very g livestock sector.

What makes us positive is that we were not suspended for poor quality beef but for the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and after an absence of more than a decade from the EU market, we definitely must resume beef exports with a bang and to be able to fulfil our annual quota at whatever level is given.

It is not just about celebrating the resumption of beef exports but whether or not we still have the capacity to be an active player in the market.

It is also very encouraging that our national cattle herd is said to be around 6 million, which would make it easier to get the slaughter cattle for beef exports.

That the livestock sector has great potential to contribute to economic growth and has never been doubted but what is of concern are the institutions that are mandated to act on behalf of the Government.

We hope we will be able to fulfil the beef quota when the EU lifts the suspension and earn the much-needed foreign currency.

Source : The Herald