Levies stifling livestock growth: ZFU

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THE Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ministry and stakeholders in the livestock sector will from next week tour the country’s provinces to gather input from players and review the Livestock Policy.
The policy is hinged around issues of value addition, livestock sector financing, research and extension.
The reviewed policy is expected to promote the growth of local players and ensure the country is abreast with emerging trends worldwide.
Other issues to be promoted by the policy include food security, nutrition issues and the contribution of livestock to improved household welfare.
The framework is also expected to address concerns of the marketing procedures and marketing infrastructure.
The livestock sub-sector is on a rebound.
Players were not spared from the economic challenges faced by the country in the last decade.
According to the Crop and Livestock Assessment report, the national herd has increased slightly by two percent from 5,2 million during the 2012/2013 season to 5,3 million this season.
Farmers’ efforts to grow the herd have been derailed by a number of challenges such as lack of adequate funding to purchase feeds, dipping chemicals and loss of livestock to thieves.
According to the report, the country has 521 607 sheep, 3,7 million goats and more than 300 000 pigs.
Day old chick production increased by 38 percent from 52 million in 2012 to 72 million in 2013.
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union first vice-president, Credit Nyathi urged policy makers to ensure consultations were exhaustive before putting in place legislation.
“The reason why there are so many complaints especially from the farmers is because of some policies guiding the sector which they feel they were not consulted on hence they should be given room to have their say,” Nyathi said.
“The draft policy seems comprehensive and it will help improve on the sector as it tackles pertinent issues.”
Nyathi said the issue of levies and fines that has been a major drawback in the sector should be dealt with by the new policy.
“These levies that are prevailing erode our earnings and if thorough consultations are done such concerns will be raised and addressed,” he said.
“It is important that through this review process players in the sector interrogate the issue of levies and fines some of which are said to be stifling the growth of the sector.”
The issue of fines and levies in the livestock sector has taken centre stage with farmers calling on Government to intervene.
Players in beef producing sector have voiced concern over levies charged during the sale of cattle, fees for vet permits and costs for police clearance when moving livestock.
Recently, the Muzarabani Rural District Council (RDC) introduced a cattle levy of 10,5 percent of the price of each beast collected from every buyer of cattle during all cattle sales.
Farmers have argued that the levy by the RDC was not justified.
In the piggery sector, concerns were raised over the ASF Certification fee for swine fever which was a blanket fee of US$200 regardless of the number of sow units a farmer owns.
The fees were said to be hitting hard on the small holder farmers.
Players in the sector argued that the fees charged by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) were not justified and were high in comparison to the services they offered.
Poultry producers urged policy makers to ensure that those intending to import should ensure the standards of the imports were the same as those in the country.
In another development, dairy farmers have called on Government to establish one authority that regulates the dairy sector to accelerate growth of the sector.
There are several Government arms that regulate the dairy industry.
Currently dairy producers are paying levies to the EMA, Dairy Services Department, Agriculture Marketing Authority, Local Authorities and Zimbabwe National Water Authority among others.
In June this year, stakeholders in the agriculture sector formed the Livestock Policy Hub (LPH) whose mandate is to review, challenge and assist in the crafting of livestock legislation promoting the growth of the sector.
The LPH, chaired by Dr Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatulu, Principal Director in the Department of Livestock Veterinary Services, is made up of officials from the Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Ministry, farmers’ unions and agriculture experts.
The LPH, which will play a key role during the consultations on the livestock policy, was set up to act as a medium between players and policy makers to ensure policies crafted help develop the sector.
As the livestock sector continues to grow it is hoped the policy will help create a favourable environment for the growth of local players.

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