By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
The country’s beef supplies have been hit by the latest outbreak of the deadly Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), which Government is now battling to control.
The disease was first reported in Chegutu, Mashonaland West Province.
Government, through the Veterinary Services Department, has since suspended cattle movement into Harare and this has affected cattle sale, including at one of the country’s major cattle auctions supplying Harare, the CC Sales, in Mt Hampden.
The sector is now relying on reserves.
Price of beef and beef products had previously sky-rocketed in December before falling in mid-January by almost 60 percent. Prices of beef currently averages $4, 20 per kilogramme, down from $6, 75 in December.
The reduction in prices, according to meat suppliers, had been necessitated by increasing supply against constant demand.
But the latest development could spark price hikes on beef.
In an earlier interview before the FMD outbreak, Montana Carswell Meats (MC) manager Dumisani Murindagomo told The Sunday Mail that, “We have recently witnessed the decrease in meat prices over the past weeks due to an increase of cattle in many abattoirs, therefore prices are bound to fall.”
But in a recent notice to farmers and cattle buyers, CC Sales, the biggest buying and selling platform in Harare, advised that it had suspended its weekly cattle sales at the Mt Hampden Cattle pens in Harare as Government investigates the recent outbreak.
“Following a recent suspected case of FMD in Chegutu, the Veterinary department has asked us to cancel the Mount Hampden sale scheduled for Tuesday 23rd January while they carry out further investigations.”
The suspension still stands.
On Thursday last week, the Veterinary Department put down and burnt a herd of 17 pedigree Simmental and Brahman cattle that included a Boran bull at a Chegutu farm after it had contacted the deadly contagious viral disease.
In an interview with this publication, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement’s Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services director Dr Josphat Nyika said while it was difficult to say when exactly normal movement of cattle will resume, it will not be long, as the department has dealt with the source of the disease.
“I am a bit hamstrung to say when exactly we are going to lift the suspension (on cattle movement) as there are a few considerations to be made.
“But it won’t be long. At the moment, we are very much satisfied that we have dealt with the source of the problem and all our investigations have shown that all other suspected areas are disease free,” he said.
The FMD threat comes hard on the heels of one cattle disease, which is called Theileriosis and is commonly referred to as the January disease. It claimed at least 2 000 cattle.
The tick-born disease, which is very common in the rainy season due to high tick prevalence, has thrived due to irregular cattle dipping by most farmers, some of whom prefer to dip their cattle at their farms as opposed to Government dip tanks.
Awareness programmes have also been increased in the most affected areas, among them Goromonzi, Bindura, Chegutu and Chivhu. The Sunday Mail