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Zimbabwean mining company to enter livestock, feed production

Zimbabwe mining company, Zimplats, is reported to be exploring the possibility of entering livestock and feed production, and its interest may be well timed as the prospects for the country’s beef sector begin — despite some challenges — to look much brighter.

Zimbabwe On The Map Of The World Or Atlas.
Zimbabwe on the map of the world or atlas.

Zimbabwe mining company Zimplats is reported to be exploring the possibility of entering livestock and feed production, and its interest may be well timed as the prospects for the country’s beef sector begin — despite some challenges — to look much brighter.

Zimplats is assessing the opportunities to enter livestock and animal feed production, reports The Herald.

Known for its main activity of mining for platinum and other precious metal ores, the company also owns land in the district of Mhondoro-Ngezi, which is in the South African country’s northern province of Marshonaland West.

It is this land, above its mines, that Zimplats has earmarked for cattle farming and the production of quality beef for export, according to company spokesperson, Busi Chindove.

The trade will bring welcome foreign currency into Zimbabwe, she said, as well as benefiting the local community. Instead of transporting animal feed from the capital, Harare, the feedstuffs — corn, soybeans and sunflower seeds — will be grown by local farmers and processed into feeds at the firm’s planned feed mill.

A dairy unit is also planned by the company, according to Chindove, to boost the region’s milk supply.

Last month, The Herald reported that Zimplats had applied to the local authority for authorization to carry out cattle farming in the area. The land — totaling 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) — was already owned by the company, which was requesting a change of use to beef and dairy farming. In return for a 5% stake in the enterprise, the council agreed to the application.

The project would still leave sufficient land available for local farmers to graze their cattle, according to the council, and Zimplats has agreed to help eradicate the parasitic disease of cattle — theileriosis — in the region.

Revival of Zimbabwe’s beef industry

Zimplat’s interest in cattle farming appears to be well timed.

After near collapse blamed on outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD), national economic difficulties and trade sanctions, Zimbabwe’s beef sector is beginning to rebound, according to United Nations’ Africa Renewal.

The recovery has been welcomed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Recent investors in what has been described as “the nation’s most strategic asset” have come from as far afield as Rwanda, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates. Last year, a partnership worth ZWD130 million (US$360,000) was agreed between CSC — Zimbabwe’s state-owned beef processor — and Boustead Beef of the United Kingdom (U.K.).

Local farmers are also being attracted back to cattle farming by the recent recovery of the country’s beef sector.

Among their challenges are a need to improve herd quality, but this has encouraged developments such as a new breeding center. Run by the Makera Cattle Co., the center uses indigenous breeds such as the Tuli. These animals are fertile, require less feed and space than other breeds, are easy to manage, and have good carcass traits. Through artificial insemination, Tuli bulls are being used to improve the genetics of rural farmers’ herds.

With the experience of recent droughts, changing climatic conditions may also prove to be challenging. However, these could be at least partially mitigated by simple innovations such as storing crop residues cut during the rainy season and feeding them to cattle during the dry season.

This year, Zimbabwe’s Livestock and Meat Advisory Council warned that growth in the nation’s production of meat, milk and eggs was likely to slow.

Threat of Theileria

Theileriosis is a tick-borne disease caused by the Theileria parasite, according to G. Uilenberg in a chapter on these infections in Current Topics in Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science Volume 6 – Diseases of Cattle in the Tropics published by Springer.

While local cattle breeds can live with endemic infection, imported cattle may be highly susceptible to the disease, which causes fever, and to death in around 70% of cases.

East Coast fever is caused by another member of the Theileria family of protozoa.

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