Pride Mahlangu, Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe beef and leather industry has been urged to improve its standards for it to excel and compete in western markets.
During a recent private sector engagement with the business community in Bulawayo, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Timo Olkkonen, told captains of industry that the country needed to improve its standards in the beef sector for it to be competitive for European markets.
“The standards put by the EU are creating obstacles for Zimbabwe beef exports. On leather it is about competitiveness, thus Zimbabwe should also strive to produce quality products like Ethiopia which has excelled in the sector,” said Ambassador Olkkonen.
This comes as the beef industry in Zimbabwe, which is mainly dominant in Matabeleland region, has lost its European market share.
The loss of the EU market has, in turn, crippled the sector which once contributed to the defining of Bulawayo and Matabeleland as the country’s industrial hub.
During the meeting, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries vice president, Mr Joseph Gunda, appealed to the EU to help with training in the leather sector as the Zimbabwe Leather Institute was no longer functional.
“The revival of the beef and leather sector needs a lot of training; we have missed a lot in terms of technology. The Leather Institute of Zimbabwe is not functional. It is our wish to see that training in this sector is facilitated,” he said.
Bulawayo City Council Economic Development Officer Mr Kholisani Moyo called for the EU to open its markets for penetration by local companies to resuscitate the beef sector.
“One of the reasons why Bulawayo used to be an industrial hub was because of the beef sector, which was driving the economy of the city.
“The reason why the beef sector was critical for Bulawayo was because we had the EU market for our beef and we lost that market,” he said.
“Now that you are here in Bulawayo, I am not so sure how you can influence, maybe at EU level, so that our beef sector can be resuscitated.”
Ambassador Olkkonen said the EU was committed to co-operate and engage with the private sector. He, however, said there was a need for discussions to be held between Brussels and the Zimbabwean Government.
The EU has commended Government’s political and economic reform agenda saying it shows its seriousness in moving the country forward. — @pridesinstinctz