Retail revolutions: the rise and rise of butcheries and informal food selling in Zimbabwe

In last week’s blog I discussed the new beef production systems supplying meat to consumers in Masvingo province and beyond. A radically reconfigured pattern of land use and ownership has resulted in diverse new value chains. This has had effects across the chain, including in the retail sector.

In our book, and a paper we wrote in 2008, we discussed the situation in the midst of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis. The picture was one of informal markets, illegal trade and the collapse of the mainstream retail sector. What has happened since 2009 and the stabilisation of the economy and the introduction of a multicurrency environment?

Certainly the growth of butcheries has continued, despite challenges. In a survey in 2006-07 we counted 31 butcheries in Masvingo town (20 in Mucheke township alone) and 9 in Ngundu. All businesses suffered badly at the peak of the economic crisis, and many closed in 2008. However since 2009, they have reopened. In 2013 the number of registered butcheries in Masvingo stood at 32 (14 in town, including 8 supermarkets, with a further 18 in the townships). In 2010-11 there were also 13 in Ngundu and 21  in Chiredzi (5 in town, 12 in Tshovani and 4 in Garage). Unlike in 2006, supermarkets are stocking beef, but only the more premium ‘supergrade’ cuts. In Masvingo, for example, OK and TM source from the larger abbatoirs, such as Carswell and Montana who can supply high quality meat regularly. During the economic crisis they would source from wherever, including meat traders, but, as TM’s meat buyer explained, the quality and reliability was poor, and enjoying a vibrant trade. Today meat traders supply other butcheries who undercut the supermarkets in terms of price. Some outlets are directly linked to abbatoirs, and they can cut costs even further.

Clearly demand is buoyant, despite economic difficulties. While red meat consumption has declined according to official statistics, and there has been a switch to pork, chicken and fish, beef remains people’s favoured meat. But with the change in production system, there is a different pattern and quality of supply. Instead of the top cuts, the lower quality ‘nyama’ is more commonly sold, and this can still be marketed at reasonable prices.  In addition to registered butcheries there are number of ‘mobile’ illegal operations. Masvingo’s Chief Health Officer, Mr Munganasa explained they have a ‘running battle’ with such vendors who sell cheap, imported South African chicken and beef from freezer boxes. A leading local butcher, Mrs Foroma, complained: “We are losing business from these vendors. We pay our rent, and comply with the regulations, but they  undercut us. They become very active in the evening after the municipal authority workers knock off. They use illegal ‘under the tree’ slaughter and sell to food sellers”.  But illegal operators say there plenty of business: “there is room enough for everyone”, one argued.

In order to increase profits, and compete with the multiple independent vendors, many butcheries also have a food selling business, sometimes operated as a franchise. For example Hungoidza butchery at Ngundu established a food outlet in 2000 which has continued as a thriving business, relying on truckers who stop on their way to and from Beitbridge. The butchery makes biltong which they buy, and also has a braai (barbecue). “There is always a brisk trade”, the owner explained.

Also with local slaughter arrangements, linked to butcheries, there has been a growth in sales of ‘fifth quarter’ products (offal, head, feet etc.), including sales to small restaurants and street sellers of food. Take Stanford Maringo. He is in his early thirties and comes from Zaka. He got a job about 10 years ago at Chakona’s butchery in Masvingo. He was a meat cutter and cattle buyer. But the pay was poor and he wanted to have his own business. In the end after trying out vegetable selling in the market, he struck a deal with the  butchery owner that he would continue cutting meat, but could use the machine for slicing ‘mazondo‘, and he could put up a braai stand (barbecue) outside the shop. He sells mazondo to the customers at the next door bar, and has a roaring trade. He also generates good business for the butchery, buying about 80 cows’ feet a week, and selling on uncooked but sliced mazondo to other food sellers and restaurants.  Stanford explains his plans:

My business is doing well. I send money home each month to my relatives in Zaka. Last month I bought a digital camera, and I will start a photo business too. My real, long term plan is become a cattle buyer, and enter meat retailing with my own shop. I also married my sweetheart, thanks to the proceeds from selling mazondo. She is also a butchery employee, but wants to start a hair salon. My mazondo business is going to provide the seed funds for this.

So, from selling cattle feet or tripe on the street, big and better things can happen.  The same applies to the food sellers in Chikombedzi market. This is a massive weekly market centred on the cattle trade. Each week hundreds of animals are exchanged, and thousands of people from all around congregate. A number of food selling outlets have sprung up to serve the customers.  The market is tightly regulated however. The local council charges vendors for their stands, and the Ministry of Health also requires certificates, banning those who are HIV positive from selling food. This all adds to the costs, but it is still profitable.

Nyariwe Ngudu has a stall, and she hires someone each month over the two days of the market to fetch water, wash plates and help her with the cooking. She sells pork from her own farm, but also buys in other meat to serve with sadza (mealie meal porridge). Betty Madondo focuses on cooking relish on market days. She has a mix: some goat meat, but also chicken as those coming from town prefer chicken, she says. Others get game meat and fish poached from the park, but the game scouts are always around at the market and demand bribes for selling.  Although she doesn’t deal in game meat, she still has to pay bribes to the council workers and health officials, as the regulations are so strict. She cooks it in the evening before the market, and the food vendors come and buy from her, who sell on when the buses and trucks arrive for the market.

“There are so many people who come to the market”, Betty explains. “It’s great business, and they all want meat relish”. Although this is an intermittent business, with the market happening only once a month she gets a good profit in a few days, She also sometimes travels to other markets in the area to make up her income. She explains her business model: “When I get cash from relish sales, I buy sandals at the market. I then exchange these for goats, chickens, occasionally pigs, in the villages before the next market”.

Meat retailing has been transformed in recent years, as has the whole meat value chain. All these new enterprises are across the chain are connected, and have links to the land reform programme. From the new farms come the livestock, providing the business for the cattle traders, butcheries, abbatoirs and pole slaughterers. Low paid government workers also take a cut, deploying ‘regulations’ strategically, taking fines or bribes. And from there, food sellers, restaurant owners and others can make a living, providing new opportunities to build, expand and extend their livelihood activities.

The current situation represents a highly differentiated scene with room for diverse enterprises fitting different market niches. As South African and local capital reinvests in the Zimbabwean retail sector, will this diversified, employment and livelihood generating sector remain, or will the longer term picture be one of consolidation in a few big players, as has happened in so many other places, with the smaller operators squeezed out? Hopefully policy and consumer choice will mean that the more diverse pattern that has arisen will continue to thrive.

This post was written by Ian Scoones and originally appeared on Zimbabweland

 

 

Advertisements

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

14 responses to “Retail revolutions: the rise and rise of butcheries and informal food selling in Zimbabwe

  1. William Doctor

    These are all nice anecdotes. But no hard, verifiable data. You say that the CSC was a ‘white elephant’ – but that’s an arbitrary statement. The FinGaz for example, reported earlier this year that national beef ‘slaughters have deteriorated to 200 000, from 605 000 in 2000.’ The article goes on to say that ‘beef exports [pre-2000] played an important role in the economy of the country, earning over US$100 million per year.’ Hardly a ‘white elephant’.

    Please explain why the CSC was not sustainable, with references. Also can you address any issues arising out of ‘tragedy of the commons’ in the new arrangements.

    Eddie Cross (an African, not Africanist) I note ‘recommended the restoration of the cattle finance scheme to provide farmers with long term low interest financing for cattle; the formalisation of auction markets for beef and beef bi-products, … the re-establishment of discipline and veterinary controls … and the restoration of security of tenure on commercial farms with security of property rights including livestock on farms.’ These statements got National Coverage, in the newspaper read by Zimbabwe’s elite.

  2. William Doctor

    I’ve read the paper. I don’t really understand where you’re coming from. FMD is a huge threat to agricultural industry [not human health], and the virus is highly infectious. The EU is required to protect their own industries, and thus the tight regulations. The EU is, and will remain a vast market. This is not a market to be scoffed at.

    Regards costs and benefits, farmers stand to lose vast sums if money from an epizootic. This includes Zimbabwean rural farmers. Surely, given the consequences, simply ‘managing FMD’ is high risk?

    Also, you suggest that the new arrangement in Zimbabwe has ‘wider group benefits’ – but did communal farmers not also benefit from the CSC pre-2000? Did the vast amounts of foreign currency reserves coming into the country pre-2000 [the Fingaz reports US$ 100 million per annum, you cite the amount as under half of that, without reference], not contribute toward development? Land reform needed to happen, but not in the manner in which it did [and there are serious consequences as a result]. It seems to me that you attempt to rationalise the chaotic reform in Zimbabwe – as opposed to being constructively critical – which in the long-term is more helpful.

    Also you say that the pre-2000 system maintained a ‘(sometimes rather arbitrary) imposition of health and safety regulations … often based on out-dated colonial legislation. Food safety regulations need instead to be appropriate to this context and not undermine the market.’ So are you suggesting that the EU [who’s first task is to protect their own industry] accept beef from Zimbabwe that is potentially infected ‘so as not to undermine the market’? Will Zimbabwe compensate the losses to EU farmers following an outbreak?

    Anyway, all of this is anecdotal and opinion-based – hardly good science. I look forward to seeing some cold, hard data. Perhaps a comparative study of the income generated for Botswana through beef export, and that of net gain to Zimbabwean farmers? I see that foot-note 22 reports that the Botswana Meat Commission has been making tidy profits.

    • The argument is quite simple really:

      1. FMD is endemic in Zimbabwe and very expensive to control
      2. In the past ‘area based disease freedom’ was sustained through heavy subsidy from the government and the EU.
      3. Today such disease control subsidies are no longer availalble and the lucrative EU markets even more difficult to access, given growing entry requirements (including traceability etc.)
      4. Other countries, such as Botswana and Namibia, are finding it increasingly hard to maintain access to these markets, and it is coming at a great cost, making operations like the BMC vulnerable
      5 There are alternative ways of achieving safe trade, including commodity based trade, that are cheaper and just as effective.
      6. While CBT currently does not mean access to the EU, it is accepted by the OIE. CBT is probably the best route for exports to countries elsewhere in Africa, and to Asia
      7. Growing domestic and regional markets offer higher returns than the EU export market, and need to be developed.
      8. This requires different infrastructure (not that CSC) and new regulations (not area based approaches) – and overall a rethink of the beef production, marketing and trade system.

      This argument is now becoming established in policy circles in the AU, SADC and in Zimbabwe (see this briefing from Comesa: http://www.nepad-caadp.net/pdf/COMESA%20CAADP%20Policy%20Brief%201%20Livestock%20Commodities%20(2).pdf). For comparative country information, have a look at: http://steps-centre.org/project/veterinary_science/. For more on Zimbabwe, see: http://steps-centre.org/project/veterinary_science/.

  3. I’m loving the very constructive comments here. Learned quite a bit just from this one article. Keep it up the both of you!

    • William Doctor

      @ Zimbabweland

      .., and the response is just as simple.

      1] FMD is endemic to many countries, but then so was smallpox. Surely the expense of control outweigh the costs of outbreak? Any data?
      2] I can’t believe the past ‘free-zones’ were unsustainable. It would have paid for itself [no such thing as free lunch], and certainly the Mugabe regime would have done very little to support [non-‘indigenous’] farmers pre-2000.
      3] Botswana still maintains access to EU markets. There is no conspiracy on the part of the EU here.
      4] I looked up the BMC [ http://www.bmc.bw/gen_up/floor_img13.pdf ] , and it has been so successful as a commercial enterprise that ‘since establishment in 1967 the BMC Group, besides its core business, has enlarged to include ownership of transport, property, cold storage, marketing and insurance companies.’ Perhaps you could request a representative from the BMC to give his/her opinion on the matter, other than the person involved in STEPS? Also I note the BMC has a multi-racial board [and is inclusive of gender]. Something unlikely under the Mugabe regime.
      5] Yes but the issue with ‘commodity based trade’ is that if just one infected animal gets through [say because of sub-standard abattoir conditions], then the whole exercise is jeopardised. Also, I looked at the NEAPD 2008 brief, and in there it states that ‘the OIE code specifies that … cattle should be reared in an area which can be confirmed free of FMD.’ So Zimbabwe can’t even meet the OIE standards?
      6] As above.
      7] I can’t comment on regional markets, but regards Asian markets, the Australians are more than one step ahead. Their export industry is worth $5 billion, they have 28 million head of cattle, 40 000 producers and maintain high standards. They are on Asia’s doorstep and know it. These are the competition. This is the real world. See http://www.pwc.com.au/industry/agribusiness/assets/Australian-Beef-Industry-Nov11.pdf
      8] Yes in Zimbabwe [because there is now little infrastructure], but will Botswana sigh up to this? I doubt it.

  4. Debates about livestock production and trade are extremely important for Zimbabwe’s future development. Comments made by Williamdoctor seemed sceptical about the blog contributions so far. I therefore asked Dr Gavin Thomson, a world-leading expert on FMD and someone who has researched commodity based trade issues extensively, to comment on the discussion so far. He kindly did so immediately, and his contributions are contained below.

    He is currently a director of TAD Scientific in South Africa, whose website offers a brief biography. As you can see he is eminently qualified to comment on this issue:

    Personal profile: Dr Gavin Thomson Qualifications: BVSc, University of Pretoria, 1966; MSc (Immunology), University of Birmingham, 1970; PhD, University of London, 1978

    Brief biography:

    Gavin is a virologist with extensive research experience in the diagnosis and control of a wide range of diseases with particular specialization in foot and mouth disease (FMD) and African swine fever (ASF). An up-to-date publication record substantiates this body of work. He was the director of two major research institutes of the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa over a period of 12 years (1988-2000). More recently, Gavin has been employed by the FAO (Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN: 2000-2004) and seconded to a European Union-funded programme (PACE – Pan-African Programme for the Control of Epizootics) devoted to developing surveillance and control systems for a range of transboundary animal diseases, particularly rinderpest, across 32 countries of Eastern, Western and Central Africa. This programme operates under the auspices of the African Union’s Inter-African Bureau of Animal Resources. Presently, as for the past 11 years, Gavin serves as an elected member of the Scientific Commission (formerly the Foot and Mouth and Other Epizootics Commission) of the OIE. For three years (2000-2003) he served as the President of the Commission. This has required involvement in a wide range of international animal health issues and assessment of the status of OIE-member countries applying for recognition of freedom from rinderpest, FMD, contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia (CBPP) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). A particular recent activity has been development of the “commodity-based trade” system by which developing countries can improve access to international livestock commodity markets. He is currently addressing the problem of ensuring credible certification systems to support expanded international trade in animal commodities. For six months in 2000 Gavin was appointed to the Board of Onderstepoort Biological Products Ltd., the largest manufacturer of animal vaccines in Africa. He resigned from this position in order to take up the appointment of Main Epidemiologist to the PACE Programme in Nairobi.

    Fortuitously, two important review papers have just come out in Transboundary and Emerging Diseases on this subject. They have copyright restrictions, but the summaries and links are here:

    International Trade Standards for Commodities and Products Derived from Animals: The Need for a System that Integrates Food Safety and Animal Disease Risk Management
    G. R. Thomson, M.-L. Penrith, M. W. Atkinson, S. Thalwitzer, A. Mancuso, S. J. Atkinson and S. A. Osofsky
    digital citation pending hard copy publication: DOI: 10.1111/tbed.12164

    Summary

    A case is made for greater emphasis to be placed on value chain management as an alternative to geographically based disease risk mitigation for trade in commodities and products derived from animals. The geographic approach is dependent upon achievement of freedom in countries or zones from infectious agents that cause so-called transboundary animal diseases, while value chain-based risk management depends upon mitigation of animal disease hazards potentially associated with specific commodities or products irrespective of the locality of production. This commodity-specific approach is founded on the same principles upon which international food safety standards are based, viz. hazard analysis critical control points (HACCP). Broader acceptance of a value chain approach enables animal disease risk management to be combined with food safety management by the integration of commodity-based trade and HACCP methodologies and thereby facilitates ‘farm to fork’ quality assurance. The latter is increasingly recognized as indispensable to food safety assurance and is therefore a pre-condition to safe trade. The biological principles upon which HACCP and commodity-based trade are based are essentially identical, potentially simplifying sanitary control in contrast to current separate international sanitary standards for food safety and animal disease risks that are difficult to reconcile. A value chain approach would not only enable more effective integration of food safety and animal disease risk management of foodstuffs derived from animals but would also ameliorate adverse environmental and associated socio-economic consequences of current sanitary standards based on the geographic distribution of animal infections. This is especially the case where vast veterinary cordon fencing systems are relied upon to separate livestock and wildlife as is the case in much of southern Africa. A value chain approach would thus be particularly beneficial to under-developed regions of the world such as southern Africa specifically and sub-Saharan Africa more generally where it would reduce incompatibility between attempts to expand and commercialize livestock production and the need to conserve the subcontinent’s unparalleled wildlife and wilderness resources. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tbed.12164/full

    Balancing Livestock Production and Wildlife Conservation in and around Southern Africa’s Transfrontier Conservation Areas
    G. R. Thomson, M. -L. Penrith, M. W. Atkinson, S. J. Atkinson, D. Cassidy and S. A. Osofsky
    digital citation pending hard copy publication: DOI: 10.1111/tbed.12175

    Summary

    Biodiversity conservation, of which the transfrontier conservation area movement is an integral part, and more effective livestock production/trade are pivotal to future rural development in southern Africa. For that reason, it is imperative to effectively ameliorate the obstacles that have impeded progress towards the coexistence of these two sectors for more than half a century. Transboundary animal diseases, foot and mouth disease in particular, have been and continue to be the most important of these obstacles. Fortunately, new developments in international sanitary standards applicable to trade in commodities and products derived from animals are beginning to make a solution possible. However, while progress in principle has been achieved, practical implementation remains problematic for technical reasons, exacerbated by inconsistent attitudes towards acceptance of non-traditional international trade standards. This paper describes the background to this situation, progress that has been achieved in the recent past and remaining difficulties that need to be overcome to advance towards achievement of balanced rural development in southern Africa. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tbed.12175/full

    Here are Gavin’s comments – in bold in the text below, plus some additional, crucial issues he identifies:

    Some of the statements below are simply inaccurate & others are half-truths. However, aside from that, a few crucial issues are not even mentioned:

    • The FMD problem in southern Africa is not the direct cost/effect of the disease but the indirect effects of the control measures applied (i.e. anthropomorphic – these are based on experiences elsewhere in the world where the epidemiology of FMD is very different). International agencies such as OIE and FAO are only starting to realise this fact & the need to match management approaches with the local epidemiology of the disease (see Weaver et al., 2013).
    • A major issue today is that FMD vaccines and their methods of application are woefully inadequate – so effective management of the disease – never mind eradication – in southern Africa, where the incidence of disease has increased remarkably in the last 10-12 years (see Southern African FMD Bulletin of 12 December 2011 (www.wcs-ahead.org), is essentially a pipe-dream. So we have to find another way …..
    • Because FMD is not eradicable in southern & eastern Africa within the foreseeable future we have to learn to live with it, including applying measures that do not constrain wildlife conservation and other rural activities. Wildlife is the one unique asset (potential competitive advantage) the region possesses. See TBED paper 12175
    See other comments below in bold..
    Reply
    2. William Doctor
    November 17, 2013 at 7:53 am (Edit)
    I’ve read the paper. I don’t really understand where you’re coming from. FMD is a huge threat to agricultural industry [not human health], and the virus is highly infectious. The EU is required to protect their own industries, and thus the tight regulations. The EU is, and will remain a vast market. This is not a market to be scoffed at. It is not a market to be scoffed at but its relative importance in the last 5 years has declined. Also the sanitary systems required for southern African countries to access that market are prescribed (and ratcheted up) by the EC & now that they are established and escalating inevitably imply a high cost which can only be sustained by markets with exceptional rates of return. Hence countries like Botswana & Namibia are to a large extent ‘locked into’ EU markets characterised by declining volumes and returns. Regards costs and benefits, farmers stand to lose vast sums if money from an epizootic. This includes Zimbabwean rural farmers. Surely, given the consequences, simply ‘managing FMD’ is high risk?
    Also, you suggest that the new arrangement in Zimbabwe has ‘wider group benefits’ – but did communal farmers not also benefit from the CSC pre-2000? Did the vast amounts of foreign currency reserves coming into the country pre-2000 [the Fingaz reports US$ 100 million per annum, you cite the amount as under half of that, without reference], not contribute toward development? They did but not proportionately. Land reform needed to happen, but not in the manner in which it did [and there are serious consequences as a result]. It seems to me that you attempt to rationalise the chaotic reform in Zimbabwe – as opposed to being constructively critical – which in the long-term is more helpful.
    Also you say that the pre-2000 system maintained a ‘(sometimes rather arbitrary) imposition of health and safety regulations … often based on out-dated colonial legislation. Food safety regulations need instead to be appropriate to this context and not undermine the market.’ So are you suggesting that the EU [who’s first task is to protect their own industry] accept beef from Zimbabwe that is potentially infected ‘so as not to undermine the market’? Will Zimbabwe compensate the losses to EU farmers following an outbreak? This is a facile argument because beef could be produced under present circumstances in Zim that would be safe for any country (not only EU countries) to import – this has nothing to do with history. Systems exist – see Thomson et al., 2013 (TBED paper 12164).

    Anyway, all of this is anecdotal and opinion-based – hardly good science. I look forward to seeing some cold, hard data. Perhaps a comparative study of the income generated for Botswana through beef export, and that of net gain to Zimbabwean farmers? I see that foot-note 22 reports that the Botswana Meat Commission has been making tidy profits. Anyone making this statement doesn’t know what they are talking about – right now there is a parliamentary enquiry into the collapse of the beef industry in Botswana. Also see Thomson et al., 2013 (TBED paper 12175).

    Reply
    o zimbabweland
    November 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm (Edit)

    The argument is quite simple really:

    1. FMD is endemic in Zimbabwe and very expensive to control
    2. In the past ‘area based disease freedom’ was sustained through heavy subsidy from the government and the EU.
    3. Today such disease control subsidies are no longer availalble and the lucrative EU markets even more difficult to access, given growing entry requirements (including traceability etc.)
    4. Other countries, such as Botswana and Namibia, are finding it increasingly hard to maintain access to these markets, and it is coming at a great cost, making operations like the BMC vulnerable This, however, is not the only reason for their vulnerability5 There are alternative ways of achieving safe trade, including commodity based trade, that are cheaper and just as effective. The argument has moved on – see TBED paper 12164 (issue of integrated sanitary risk management across value chains using HACCP and CBT); also guideline by FAO (2011).
    6. While CBT currently does not mean access to the EU, it is accepted by the OIE. CBT is probably the best route for exports to countries elsewhere in Africa, and to Asia This statement is a little out of date: OIE is showing clear signs of changing its stance – see paper by Weaver et al., 2013 – attached). The clear opportunity lies in value chain management accompanied by international standards that are (1) not geographically based and (2) not unrealistic in local circumstances. There are new opportunities for southern African countries/entrepreneurs to show some ingenuity.
    7. Growing domestic and regional markets offer higher returns than the EU export market, and need to be developed.
    8. This requires different infrastructure (not that CSC) and new regulations (not area based approaches) – and overall a rethink of the beef production, marketing and trade system.
    This argument is now becoming established in policy circles in the AU, SADC and in Zimbabwe (see this briefing from Comesa: http://www.nepad-caadp.net/pdf/COMESA%20CAADP%20Policy%20Brief%201%20Livestock%20Commodities%20(2).pdf). For comparative country information, have a look at: http://steps-centre.org/project/veterinary_science/. For more on Zimbabwe, see: http://steps-centre.org/project/veterinary_science/.

    Reply

    William Doctor commented on Retail revolutions: the rise and rise of butcheries and informal food selling in Zimbabwe
    @ Zimbabweland
    .., and the response is just as simple.
    1] FMD is endemic to many countries, but then so was smallpox. Surely the expense of control outweigh the costs of outbreak? Any data? There are papers on this – see Barnes, 2013 (see http://www.wcs-ahead.org); Cassidy et al., 2013 .
    2] I can’t believe the past ‘free-zones’ were unsustainable. It would have paid for itself [no such thing as free lunch], and certainly the Mugabe regime would have done very little to support [non-‘indigenous’] farmers pre-2000.
    3] Botswana still maintains access to EU markets – only just & fast disappearing!. There is no conspiracy on the part of the EU here. It’s not a conspiracy – simply protecting their immediate perceived interests
    4] I looked up the BMC [ http://www.bmc.bw/gen_up/floor_img13.pdf ] , and it has been so successful as a commercial enterprise that ‘since establishment in 1967 the BMC Group, besides its core business, has enlarged to include ownership of transport, property, cold storage, marketing and insurance companies.’ This statement is simply misinformed. Perhaps you could request a representative from the BMC to give his/her opinion on the matter, other than the person involved in STEPS? Also I note the BMC has a multi-racial board [and is inclusive of gender]. Something unlikely under the Mugabe regime.
    5] Yes but the issue with ‘commodity based trade’ is that if just one infected animal gets through [say because of sub-standard abattoir conditions], then the whole exercise is jeopardised. This statement reflects a poor understanding of trade rules – it’s a multiple barrier system. Also there are many so-called FMD-free zones which are not free from infection; only certified as such. For example, the UK (then free from FMD) exported FMD to Ireland, Netherlands & France in 2001! Also, I looked at the NEAPD 2008 brief, and in there it states that ‘the OIE code specifies that … cattle should be reared in an area which can be confirmed free of FMD.’ So Zimbabwe can’t even meet the OIE standards? Please read paper TBED 121646] As above.
    7] I can’t comment on regional markets, but regards Asian markets, the Australians are more than one step ahead. Their export industry is worth $5 billion, they have 28 million head of cattle, 40 000 producers and maintain high standards. They are on Asia’s doorstep and know it. These are the competition. This is the real world. See http://www.pwc.com.au/industry/agribusiness/assets/Australian-Beef-Industry-Nov11.pdf Do you know that India is the largest exporter by volume of beef in the world? India is not free from FMD & has no FMD-free zones. Ethiopia has made important advances in exporting beef but has no FMD-free zones! 8] Yes in Zimbabwe [because there is now little infrastructure], but will Botswana sigh up to this? I doubt it. In my opinion they would be extremely silly to do so

  5. Thanks to Steve Osovsky: From this week’s Mmegi-

    http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?aid=3680

    ‘Public service approach crippled BMC’

    Poor governance structures at the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) contribute heavily to the collapse of the parastatal and decline in the beef industry, the Parliamentary Select Committee of Inquiry into the BMC and the Decline of the Botswana Beef Industry has found.

    See more at: http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?aid=3680#sthash.COU4hZ77.dpuf

    ‘Public service approach crippled BMC’ Poor governance structures at the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) contribute heavily to the collapse of the parastatal and decline in the beef industry, the Parliamentary Select Committee of Inquiry into the BMC and the Decline of the Botswana Beef Industry has found….

    (There is a lot of press coverage in Botswana over the past couple of years on BMC and the beef industry’s collapse….)

  6. am

    Tragic news about BMC but maybe it will be for the best in the long run. Parastatals are really like the old British nationalised industries: a burden on the fiscus. What debt has been left with the Government of Botswana as a result of its collapse. The similarity between Zimbabwe and surrounding countries to 1960’s and 70’s subsidy Britain is very striking. Parastatals everywhere.
    Also did it collapse because of diversion from its core business. What was it getting involved in selling insurance for? Usual comment could be made on Governments and parastatals crowding out the market place.
    Is FMD so widespread in Zimbabwe? Went to Hwange for a few days in September but no sign of a Vet check point. The one on the Nkayi road is gone. So it seems to be under control at the moment.

  7. William Doctor

    Good job on the guest comments. More of those required. Maybe someone from the BMC – please?

  8. William Doctor

    … and a few more things

    ZimbabweLand [ZL] ‘Debates about livestock production and trade are extremely important for Zimbabwe’s future development.’

    WD: Yes, so we’ll just forget about human rights abuse, electoral fraud and endemic corruption and march onward? These issues should be incorporated into the debate.

    ZL: ‘Comments made by Williamdoctor seemed sceptical about the blog contributions so far.’

    WD: It’s called science, or peer-review. This isn’t even my field, but at least I’ve initiated useful debate. And where my assertions are incorrect – then I stand to be corrected.

    GT: ‘… the incidence of disease [in southern Africa] has increased remarkably in the last 10-12 years.’

    WD: why is that?

    GT: ‘Wildlife is the one unique asset (potential competitive advantage) the region possesses.’

    WD: Absolutely! Except that in Zimbabwe, wholesale slaughter of wildlife and deforestation – on private wildlife reserves – has been sanctioned, if not encouraged by the Mugabe regime.

    GT: ‘Hence countries like Botswana & Namibia are to a large extent ‘locked into’ EU markets characterised by declining volumes and returns.’

    WD: If the relative importance of the EU market has declined, then I assume that Asian markets provide opportunity? If so – then can Botswana not market their products to Asia? Or are the rates-of-returns not high? If not, then why not? Also – you say that the EU is in relative decline, but all projections indicate a strong EU in the future, so the market is not shrinking.

    GT: ‘Anyone making this statement doesn’t know what they are talking about – right now there is a parliamentary enquiry into the collapse of the beef industry in Botswana.’

    WD: I stand corrected. I wonder though if there is a parliamentary enquiry into the collapse of the beef industry in Zimbabwe?

    WD: Looks like there is a lot of research opportunity for the interactions between wildlife and cattle in southern Africa!

  9. am

    Probably a bit off-topic.
    If there was more of a meat buying public in Zim and surrounding countries then they wouldn’t need the EU except to import meat from the EU to Zimbabwe. This requires wealth creation in these countries. This is the core issue. Wealth creation in China has resulted in more demand for pork in China and they are now importing to meet that demand. Zim looks to exports too much and not internal development and international competitiveness and trade. I.e. they do not create domestic demand but want to supply overseas demand. Let us aim for policies that result in Zimbabwe being a net beef importer because the nation is eating so much of it and internally cannot satisfy local demand. How is that going to be achieved?

  10. Pingback: Rural cattle marketing in Zimbabwe | zimbabweland

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s