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August 30, 2008

Zimbabwe exports $35 million of beef to EU annually

Zimbabwe has earned more than US$35 million annually from beef exports over the last few years but there is need to continue upgrading the cattle industry, an official at the Livestock Identification Trust has said.

In an interview at the just-ended Harare Agricultural Show, Livestock Identification Trust administrator Ms Avril Garlsson said the country earned the foreign currency under its Lome Convetion quota. The convention is a trade and aid agreement between the European Union and the African Caribbean and Pacific States.

"For a number of years, Zimbabwe has benefited from a preferential trading quota under the Lome Convention and the importance of the EU beef export market to the Zimbabwean cattle industry cannot be overemphasised. This market earns more than US$35 million annually," Ms Garsson said.

She said the Livestock Identification Trust is a company that seeks to expedite and promote cattle traceability in the country to ensure compliance with the EU regulations to boost the country’s beef exports. The company was a joint effort between the Commercial Farmers Union, the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union and the Zimbabwe Farmers Union.

Its sole responsibility is to issue ear tags, maintain a computerised database of all cattle tagged and subsequently moved, sold, slaughtered or that could have died, as well as issues passports for export.

Garsson noted that one of the major challenges in the cattle industry has been the lack of meaningful data collection. "The installation of the Zimbabwe Cattle Traceability Scheme computer network now can be consolidated into one single database that will provide information for the benefit of producers, researchers, commodity associations, processors and consumers," she said, adding that the scheme was accepted by buyers in Europe.

She said another computer programme, which was highly sophisticated was also being developed with specialised beef performance components for Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ireland.

Ms Garsson said since January 2 000, the Livestock Identification Trust had also been keeping data for the Zimbabwe Dairy Services Association for their Milk Recording Scheme.

"Dairy producers in Zimbabwe now have access to one of the most sophisticated milk recording programmes in the world through which management information is provided on a monthly basis," she said.

The Livestock Identification Trust was also working towards converting the existing Herd Book pedigree livestock records onto the Integrated Registration and Information System programme.

"Once this is complete, the Livestock Identification Trust will then be able to maintain records of all pedigree livestock in Zimbabwe under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Herd Book," she said.

The Herald

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