Manage livestock properly to ensure food and nutrition security

By Byron Mutingwende


Livestock contributes immensely to food and nutrition security as well as to foreign currency generation and economic growth, hence the importance of managing it properly, it has emerged.


In his address at a meeting of the Inclusive Policy Dialogue for Social Development (IPDSD), Abdul Nyathi, the President of the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union said it was important to engage in discussions to enhance the development of livestock industry in the country.


“As we deliberate, let’s keep in mind that livestock and livestock products are an important source of protein and other key nutrients that are important in addressing not only food but also nutrition security. Let’s keep in mind the potential contribution of livestock to foreign currency generation and economic growth,” Nyathi said.


In pursuit of this goal, the government has embarked on command livestock, a production model targeting beef, dairy and poultry. This is because the livestock industry is a significant contributor to the growth and development of the national economy.


However there is an outcry by farmers over the high cost of numerous and duplication in the livestock value chain, storage of drugs and vaccines, inadequate dip tanks per ward, inadequate water sources especially during dry season, high cost of feeds, outdated meat grading policy, financing of livestock production, lack of proper marketing structures, bad roads just to mention a few.


Dr. Josphat Nyika, the Director of Veterinary Services said his organization, as enshrined in the Animal Health Act, Chapter 9:01 is tasked to prevent entry of animal diseases and pests. He said diseases like the highly pathogenic avian influence (HPAI or bird flu), Newcastle and foot and mouth were a cause for concern.


Vincent Mpamhadzi, the Markets and Livelihoods Manager of Goal Zimbabwe said his organisation has been implementing the Building Resilient Wellbeing of Communities in Chipinge and Gwanda in supporting the livestock dialogue sessions from ward level in collaboration with ZFU.


Speaking about how pests affect food security at a separate meeting in Harare yesterday, Dr David Chimimba Phiri, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) sub regional coordinator For Southern Africa and country representative for Zimbabwe said for the first time, Zimbabwe experienced an outbreak of the fall armyworm (FAW) in Southern Africa.


“This devastating worm came hard on the heels of the El Nino drought, which had devastated the livelihoods of almost 40 million people in southern Africa. The presence of FAW in Zimbabwe and the African continent is irreversible; the reality is that FAW is here to stay. Large-scale eradication efforts are neither appropriate nor feasible and the costs and implications of this are very serious, as seen in places where fall armyworm is endemic such as Brazil, where the government spends in excess of $600 million each year to try to control infestations. The use of pesticides poses unacceptable risks to human health and the environment,” Chimimba said


FAO is providing assistance to the Government of Zimbabwe through a project designed to address the impact of the pest. It focuses on raising awareness and building the capacity of key institutions to manage the pest.  In this project, FAO is working closely Department of AGRITEX and the Department of Research and Specialist Services providing training to field extension officers and farmers.


In addition communication and education material in local languages is being e produced and distributed, along with key messages for local radio transmission.

Following the detection of HPAI at Larnark farm in May 2017 the Government of Zimbabwe requested FAO for assistance to deal with the outbreak. FAO providing technical expertise and the laboratory reagents, chemicals and personal protective equipment (PPE) required for the laboratory and fieldwork.


“The technical team helped the Government to prepare a National Avian Influenza surveillance and response plan.  FAO has supported DLVS to undertake a socio economic impact assessment of the HPAI. Pests and diseases such as the FAW and Avian influenza, do not know national boarders nor do they require visas. For this reason we have been working with SADC and governments across southern Africa to respond in unison in order to be effective,” Chimimba said.


Globally, FAO continues to align its programming with the sustainable development goals. From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural resources, food and agriculture lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. FAO is recognized as having a fundamental global role in developing methods and standards for food and agriculture statistics, and in providing technical assistance.


Chimimba said FAO is the ‘custodian’ UN agency for 21 SDG indicators, across SDGs 2, 5, 6, 12, 14 and 15. In Zimbabwe, FAO has been implementing several projects and programmes guided by the country programme framework. FAO continues to forge partnerships with stakeholders and funding partners to ensure a more coordinated and coherent approach to programmes and projects delivery in the country.