The government of Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) launched the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Program Fund which is expected to boost the livestock sector, maximise smallholder farmers’ profits and improve competitiveness on domestic and international markets. The programme will be implemented by EU partners over a four-year period and is worth US$45 million.
The ZAGP program mainly targets small to large scale livestock producers, private sector integrators, processors, research organizations, farmers unions and financial service providers among others. ZAGP, which is covering all the country’s 10 provinces, will address the weaknesses and gaps in the livestock sector that have prevented the industry from growing.
Under ZAGP, there will be knowledge and innovation services delivered by agricultural education, extension and research in animal disease control and food safety, institutional reforms and policy alignment. The program is focusing on different value chains and projects within Zimbabwe namely; beef, poultry, dairy, pig and goats, focusing on productivity, production and incomes to their potential.
The EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen said that ZAGP is the main program in agricultural growth in Zimbabwe.
“There is need for political willingness to address structural bottlenecks such as security of tenure on land, which is crucial for domestic or foreign investment,” he said.
He expressed concern over the challenges in the livestock sector which he said were affecting production.
Ambassador Olkkonen said “The price of feedstock has increased to more than 50 percent in one year, which will have a terrible impact on the competitiveness of the feed intensive sectors like pig, poultry and dairy in comparison with other sub sectors; there are also regular outbreaks of animal diseases like new castle and foot and mouth diseases that are not contained by the surveillance and disease protection systems”.
The Ambassador also clarified that the ZAGP will reduce risk perception in the livestock sector and will encourage more investment which will improve productivity and competitiveness in the domestic and regional markets.
He called for more efficient ways to use resources and supply food for the population of Zimbabwe to ensure the country is self-sufficient in terms of food.
The Provincial Affairs Minister for Mashonaland West, Mliswa-Chikoka, who was standing in for the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Perrance Shiri, said the nation’s agricultural growth program in is line with the Government of Zimbabwe’s commitment to transform agricultural systems, increase agricultural production, create greater access to markets and increase investments in livestock value chains.
“Zimbabwe has taken a deliberate policy to promote investment in the agricultural sector due to its importance to the economy. The livestock sector has the potential to increase the country’s contribution to food security and nutrition, foreign currency earnings as well as the creation of employment throughout the livestock related value chains,” she said.
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka encouraged all stakeholders to work together to make the programme successful by strengthening collaboration between the government and ZAGP so that the programme can effectively transform the livestock sector in Zimbabwe through increased and sustained agricultural production, productivity and competitiveness.
“Although the livestock sector continues to record steady growth, there are a number of challenges limiting its contribution to the national economy. These include access to finance and market, diseases leading to low productivity,” said the Minister.
NANGO officials that graced the event had an opportunity to tour different exhibition stands that reflected different value chains and projects within the agriculture sector namely; beef, poultry, dairy, pig and goats. Among the stands visited was the Inclusive Poultry Value Chain, a program awarded EUR 6 million towards improving the poultry value chain in Zimbabwe. The project is set to run for three years from February 2019 to January 2022 and is supported by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture, Livestock and Meat Advisory Council, Sustainable Agriculture Trust and Welthungerhilfe.
The Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation project is being implemented in five provinces of Zimbabwe. World Vision and Zimbabwe Agriculture Development Trust are some of the partners. The project seeks to create a competitive beef value chain that promotes enhanced trade, employment creation, food security and inclusive green economic growth by 2023.
Zimbabwe Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Services’s goal is to establish an integrated, dynamic, market oriented and farmer centric agricultural knowledge and innovation service system that meets the needs of modern agriculture in Zimbabwe. It promotes interconnectivity of agricultural education, research and extension ensuring relevant and up to date knowledge at all levels.
The veterinary services department provides extension and advisory services on good animal health care, hygiene and husbandry. It carries out surveillance, prevention, control and eradication of specified animal diseases and pests. It generates and provides new knowledge and technologies on pest control and animal health, production practices and decisions and provides information on the components, developments and impacts of the national livestock resource. The veterinary services department also provides regulatory services for the promotion of fair marketing, sanitary safety, quality and animal welfare and develop and implement livestock policies and strategies.
NANGO is monitoring the implementation of the National Indicative Program (NIP) where Agriculture is one of the three pillars of agriculture, health and governance and institution buidling under the program. The launch was attended by over 400 people including government officials, EU officials, representatives of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs), private sector and farming community.