Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri on Tuesday officially launched the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) stockfeed manufacturing plant in Norton, which is expected to complement Government’s efforts to boost livestock production through the Special Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme.
The plant is also expected to improve the supply of animal-based products to meet national food and nutritional needs and enhance the competitiveness of Zimbabwe’s livestock products on the export market. It is part of GMB’s commercial operations and is operating under the Country Feeds brand.
The plant manufactures stockfeeds for non-ruminants and work is in progress for the modification of the plant to start producing feed for ruminants.
In a speech read on his behalf by Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi, Minister Shiri said the stockfeed manufacturing plant was an important milestone for the Command Livestock programme’s multiplier effects on the livestock input supply chain.
“The Special Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme is expected to increase the demand for stockfeeds and this plant could not have come at a better time than today,” he said.
“Livestock production is an important component in agricultural development, particularly in the communal areas where cattle is the major form of draught power. Livestock production remains vulnerable to climate change in the form of droughts and new pests and diseases.
“In this regard, the plant will play a pivotal role in providing feed supplements at affordable prices.”
Minister Shiri expressed concern over the outbreak of Avian influenza in May last year, which he said affected production in the poultry sector and said the plant would assist the sector through the provision of adequate stockfeeds.
“Following the outbreak, the poultry sub-sector took a dip and production of day-old broiler chicks decreased by 8 percent from 75 million in 2016 to 69 million in 2017,” he said.
“Total broiler meat production dropped by 10 percent from 117 tonnes in 2016 to 106 tonnes in 2017. Table egg production decreased by 24 percent from 22,3 million dozens in 2016 to 17 million dozens in 2017 in the large sector while in the small sector table egg production decreased by 37 percent from 33 million dozen eggs in 2016 to 20,9 million dozens in 2017.”
GMB chairman Mr Charles Chikaura said to date the GMB commercial value addition business had recorded significant success, particularly in the milling sector where the board managed to play its price stabilisation role.
He said the Norton plant was producing 10 tonnes of stockfeeds per hour.
“The key objective behind this expansion project was and is still to ensure the financial viability and sustainability of the GMB operations as a whole, while reducing reliance on the Treasury for financial support,” said Mr Chikaura.
“The plant will also contribute to the resuscitation of the livestock industry, which was shrinking dramatically at the time. It is also our expectation that the stockfeeds business will explore contract farming arrangements with local farmers to ensure guaranteed supply of local raw materials while at the same time forging strategic alliances that promote off-take of our feed products.”
GMB general manager Mr Rockie Mutenha said the stockfeed manufacturing plant demonstrated the integration of Government programmes towards the achievement of national goals.
“This business was established to contribute to rebuilding the national herd,” he said. “There could be no better time to officially open this stockfeeds manufacturing plant than the time Government is implementing the Special Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme.”