Zimbabwe’s livestock sector players met to review and validate the national tick borne diseases control strategy and animal health regulations. The three-day stakeholders’ validation workshop was held in Bulawayo from 5 to 7 October 2021. The workshop brought together more than 50 representatives of all key stakeholders in the southern region livestock sector from both the public and private sector to express their views for inclusion in three livestock disease management policy documents that will be forwarded to Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development (MoLAFWRD) for consideration and adoption.
In Zimbabwe, the livestock sector is positioned to take a key role in the current national inclusive transformation agenda towards attainment of vision 2030. About 90 percent of the national herd is held by the small holder communal sector yet growth of the sector is currently being stifled by high prevalence of a variety of livestock diseases, particularly tick borne diseases and face serious threats from emerging diseases such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The presence of these diseases and the perceived risk from the emerging diseases that have potential to decimate the sector have become a major stumbling block for entry into local, regional and international markets hence the need for improved sector regulation for improved animal health and food safety.
“The Transforming Zimbabwe’s Animal Health and Food Safety Systems for the Future Project (SAFE) is being implemented by FAO and GoZ as part of the European Union (EU) funded Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Program (ZAGP). The project has developed three new regulations prioritized under the animal health act and revised four existing regulations that have been identified to be key in facilitating unlocking the value of livestock in the smallholder sector and facilitate market entry,” said Basil Mugweni, SAFE Project Manager in a keynote address speaking on behalf of Patrice Talla, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for Southern Africa and Representative to Zimbabwe.
“The project has also developed a tick-borne disease control strategy designed to tame the current spike in tick-borne diseases that has been on the upward trend for the past three or so years and has wiped household herds in some parts of the country. The tick-borne epidemic is depriving many small holder farmers of their major source of livelihood and major source of drought power for crop production,” Mugweni added.
In 2019, FAO received a grant from the EU, to implement the SAFE project under the ZAGP.The overall objective of the SAFE project is to transform these systems for improved livestock productivity, food and consumer safety and market access. To achieve this objective, the project supports formulation and updating of national strategies and regulations for creation of conducive livestock production environment.
Under ZAGP, the SAFE project is also creating functional multi stakeholder platforms for coordination, collaboration, advocacy and support for efficient revenue generation and utilization by regulatory bodies such as the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS). The project is currently collaborating with the DVS and AGRITEX to establish a functional livestock business forum to strengthen the organization and coordination of value chain actors.
The workshop also witnessed launching the Livestock Business Forum (LBF), Southern Region Chapter, which is also a deliverable of the SAFE project. The LBF is a grass roots discussion platform being established by the project meant to facilitate grass roots policy advocacy and channelling of views upwards to policy makers. The LBF is also meant to facilitate community ownership of the policy documents and facilitate implementation and compliance.
The workshop was the first of two stakeholder validation workshops to present these important policy documents to key stakeholders in the southern region of the country covering Matabeleland North and South, Masvingo and Midlands provinces, to capture their views before they are finalised for adoption and implementation. The second validation workshop will be held in Harare from 19 to 21 October 2021 to cover stakeholders in the other four provinces of Mash East, Mash West, Mash Central and Manicaland.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.