Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
A LIVESTOCK value chain transformative project has been officially launched in Zhombe, Kwekwe District, to enhance private sector partnerships towards boosting commercial beef production.
When fully functional, the project would enable farmers to access stockfeed, veterinary drugs, finance loans, training, bulls for mating services and improved marketing of their stock to viable and lucrative markets.
The Government has partnered with development partners to launch the Dendera Cattle Business Centre as part of the Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (BEST) project.
The initiative is one of the six projects under the Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP) being implemented by the Government to support various livestock value chains.
Bankrolled by the European Union and being implemented by a number of development partners, the programme is set to significantly contribute towards improved economic and social development through agriculture.
Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Senator Larry Mavima, said the Government was committed to supporting the project.
He urged more partnerships to unlock more opportunities to a wide range of players saying this would contribute to the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by the year 2030.
The ZAGP-BEST project is a unique collaboration, which should be emulated, said the minister in a speech read on his behalf during the recent launch by Midlands Provincial Crop and Livestock Officer, Mrs Medline Magwenzi.
“This is a unique collaborative partnership of institutions from private sector and public sector, NGOs associates and research institutions.
“This model is very impressive given the number of institutions that are involved in the action. To that end may I acknowledge and commend the hard work that has been put by all critical stakeholders in making sure that the work here is of high standard and beneficial for the Kwekwe community,” said Senator Mavima.
“Farmers should take advantage of this project to improve their incomes from cattle production.”
Sen Mavima said the project has come at an opportune time after a good rainfall season, which has seen Zimbabwe recording a bumper harvest.
“The launch of the Dendera Cattle Business Centre comes at the right time after a good 2020/21 rainfall season saw the veld growing well to give adequate grazing hence cattle have not suffered much from drought,” he said.
“In the previous years, the district recorded several cattle succumbing to drought related deaths. We lost a lot of cattle, particularly breeding stock.”
Head of BEST projects in the province, Mr Johannes Chikarate, said the project was targeting about 110 000 households in Kwekwe.
“We can say we have about 110 000 households, which have cattle in Kwekwe and they are part of the programme,” he said.
“But we have members who are affiliated to the project amounting to about 10 000 households. We are not leaving anyone behind in the programme.”
Mr Chikarate said value addition, which include bringing bulls to the district for mixed breeding was set to revive the value chain, which had lost its grip.
He said the marketing of beef through an auction system also gets rid of middlemen who had been buying beef for a song.
“We take cattle for further feeding and any service before we sell them via an auction. So far, we have not sold a beast for less than US$500 as compared to about US$200 the farmers are being offered by the middlemen,” said Mr Chikarate.
Running since 2019, the BEST project operates in Makoni, Mt Darwin, Gokwe South, Buhera, Shurugwi, Umguza, Lupane, Chiredzi and Mwenezi districts.
The project supplies infrastructure to establish cattle business centres for use by farmers as well as facilitating private sector input and output market players to interact.