GOVERNMENT yesterday unveiled a $432 million livestock, fisheries and wildlife production programme aimed at improving the country’s economic fortunes.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Officiating at the launch of the programme, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement minister Perrance Shiri said the initiative, which was approved by Cabinet in June was aimed at capacitating national food and non-food industries, create jobs and generate income streams and grow the economy.
“The aim of the programme was to improve the supply of animal-based products to meet national food and nutritional needs and competitive enough to meet export market requirements. In the process, we hope to address our national food and non-food industries, thereby creating jobs, income streams and growing our agricultural economy. The programme will require an estimated budget of $432 million,” Shiri said.
The programme covers livestock including beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, chickens and pigs.
He said farmers, as primary producers, will access loans with a three to five-year tenure at a modest all-inclusive rate of 4% per annum.
“Large-scale farmers that is A2, small-scale purchase areas, commercial farmers, State enterprises will participate in their individual capacity to acquire inputs through loans or other special financing arrangements that may be available. The loans shall attract an all-inclusive simple interest to the farmer of not more than 4% as stipulated by government,” Shiri said.
The minister said loan recoveries will be done through the Cold Storage Company (CSC), Agribank and other participating financial institutions, dairy processing establishments, abattoirs, insurance companies and other value chain players involved in the special programme and registered with the thematic committee on livestock.
The programme will capacitate the beef value chain and support the revitalisation of CSC, as well as feed into the leather supply chain.
The dairy value chain is also set to scale up to close local milk and milk products supply deficit and expand the export base.
According to Shiri, the proposed private funding models include livestock finance schemes, joint ventures, outgrower/contract production, cattle grazier schemes and processor financing.
Other value chains to benefit were pig, table eggs and poultry.
During the period from 2017 to 2021, beef slaughter stock is expected to grow from 350 000 to 450 000. Milk is expected to grow from 65 million litres to 120 million, pigs slaughtered to treble from the current 170 000 to 250 000.
Production of goats is anticipated to increase from 400 000 to two million. Broiler production is expected to rise from 70 million to 90 million and table eggs are expected to balloon from 50 million to 70 million.
The Agriculture minister said as the country was currently experiencing low exports due to low productivity, the programme is expected to enhance exports and productivity.
“It will also encompass production systems arising in wildlife encompassing honey bee farming, edible insects and plain game production. These lines of production are important to our food systems for nutritional balance as well as in supplying industrial raw materials. The success of this special programme will be anchored by enterprise financing, skills and knowledge for the farmer, availability of purpose genetics, animal feed and nutrition and supply chain-based regulatory service support in meeting marketing and trade, particularly in assuring product quality and public health safety,” he said.
Shiri added the programme will be implemented and monitored through the current national integrated task force that will be adopted at provincial, district and local levels to mirror the already existing structures on special programme on maize production.