Sunday, May 29, 2022

Zim farmers’ outcry over importation of FMD cattle

The sale of FMD cattle to the Cold Storage Commission of Zimbabwe has been received with mixed feelings in that country and some farmers have described the deal as scandalous.

Newsday of Zimbabwe has quoted some politicians and farmers slamming their government over the deal and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the sale of about 30 000 cattle from Botswana to her northern neighbour in a bid to contain and eradicate the notorious Foot and Mouth Disease.

The paper quoted Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union chairman for Matabeleland South, Ernest Ndlovu, saying “this should have been a programme to give farmers cattle to rear. That they are for slaughter is shocking. This is a scandal”.

Bulilima West MP Moses Mzila-Ndlovu (MDC-N) said most families in his constituency relied on cattle to raise money for school fees and the deal would flood the market and threaten their normal livelihood.

“This is going to depress the price of beef and therefore the price of cattle will come down. People in our constituencies are going to be poorer as a result because when they want to sell for school fees next term, they will be forced to do so at giveaway prices,” he said.

Mzila-Ndlovu said it was amazing that the Zimbabwean government was now involved in buying cattle for slaughter.

“Since when has government bought cattle for resale? I am protesting as a border MP. Where will the people sell their cattle now? If Zimbabweans were really concerned about their rural folk, they should boycott buying that meat,” he said.

In a statement, Zapu spokesperson, Methuseli Moyo, said government’s decision to sign the MoU with Botswana “without consulting local cattle producers” would have grave consequences for cattle ranchers in the region.

“It is obvious the bringing in of 30 000 cattle for slaughter will flood the market and cause a drastic reduction in the price of cattle. While this may be welcomed by consumers nationally, it is also true that cattle farmers, mainly in Matabeleland and the Midlands, would lose potential revenue as cattle prices drop,” he said.

“These kind of agreements emanating from the skies do not help the Zimbabwe farmers. It shows lack of planning by the Ministry of Agriculture. The deal should have been enabling farmers in Matebeleland to access breeding and not slaughter stock from Botswana. It also shows failure of the Cold Storage Commission. I am surprised we still have not overhauled the management of this organization. The deal smells corruption. Someone is making money out of it,” said Vincent Gwarazimba.

“A scandal. I thought we were going to hear facts but no, it’s the usual cries over nothing. Yes the prices might drop for a while but where is the scandal here? asked Fatso Chihure.

“There is no scandal in this deal. Botswana was going to cull or destroy those cattle, but does not have capacity to do so! In the past Botswana has killed those cattle, so what is the problem with having them assist Zimbabweans? If beef is expensive we cry…now we have cheap beef we cry…so what exactly do we want? How many of these farmers who are crying foul still send their cattle to CSC?” said Jonten Mambo.

Like in Zimbabwe, farmers in the affected Zones Six and Seven where the disease has broken out have also slammed government over its failure to consult them before reaching the deal.
The farmers are skeptical that government may not increase the P1700 compensation in case Zimbabwe bought the cattle at better prices.

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