Zimbabwe: cattle slaughters down 16% in H1 on tough environment

By Almot Maqolo

The number of cattle slaughtered in the first half of 2020 totaled 103 451 heads, representing a 16% decline from 122 620 in the same period last year, latest data shows. During the second quarter slaughters were 49 530 heads, which was 24% below the same period in 2019 and 8% less than the first quarter. In its latest report, Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC) said business activity in the second quarter was characterised by the emergence of Covid-19 and responses to it by various stakeholders in the sector and the implementation of lockdown protocols.

“The beef value chain has not been spared the economic shock, with restrictions resulting in logistical supply bottlenecks that have hampered the sourcing and marketing of cattle. Prices for meat products have remained soft under pressure from declining disposable incomes,” LMAC stated. “Formal businesses, while adversely affected by the lockdown measures, have found some accommodation from authorities, but informal businesses, among them small scale cattle producers, are finding little relief in the pursuit of meaningful economic activities.”

LMAC noted that efforts to contain the continued outbreak of diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Theileriosis are being hampered by the intermittent supply of vaccines.  “Private sector stakeholders have been advised to import their own vaccines,” it said. The council said cattle aggregators report that since mobile money agent lines have been suspended, purchases of cattle in hard currency have increased noticeably, creating an exchange rate risk in businesses that supply formal markets that are presently denominated by the local currency.

“Significant balances held in agent lines at the time of suspension remain unavailable to aggregators, exposing them to inflation factors,” LMAC said. “Tight liquidity also exists in financial markets where institutions are only availing short term 90-day loans that are not geared for most livestock operations.”

In 2020, the highest slaughters of 18 519 head were recorded in April and the lowest slaughters of 13 958 head were recorded in May. The average number of slaughters per month over the six-month period was 17 267 head.  “The relatively low monthly slaughters in the first half of the year reflect a difficult business environment,” LMAC added.<br>For the first half of the year to June 2020, Mashonaland West recorded the highest number of slaughters at monitored abattoirs, accounting for 19% (19 622 head) of the national slaughter.

Matabeleland South and Masvingo were second and third respectively while Manicaland had the lowest number of 696 head. Matabeleland North boasted the highest average carcass weight, averaging between 202 – 233kg in the first half of 2020.  The wholesale price of Super grade increased the most of all meat grades, up by 158% over the first half of 2020 from ZWL 88 to L227/kg while the wholesale price of Economy grade surged 144% from ZWL 69.75 to 170/kg.

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