ZIMBABWE’S private and public sectors have been called upon to work together to harness economic opportunities from the beef and leather value chain, which has the potential to create more jobs and attract increased export receipts.

Industry and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu said this while delivering his keynote address during a beef and leather value chain event in Lupane on Thursday, where he awarded certificates to over 40 business development service providers and financial counsellors who were trained under a US$2 million beef and leather value chain technical assistance project.

“Livestock production in Zimbabwe is an important and integral part of the agricultural sector with livestock products contributing about 30 percent of the value of agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“I am also pleased to note that 90 percent of the cash flow in the country comes from small-scale communal farmers, Matabeleland provinces contribute approximately 10,9 percent of the country’s total national herd, which is estimated at 5,5 million,” he said.

The three-year project, which came into fruition through the financial assistance extended to the Government of Zimbabwe by the African Development Bank to the tune of US$2 million while Agri-consulting Europe SA (AESA) was also part of the project through services support.

“It is also pertinent and relevant to note that this is a pilot project with the ultimate aim of being replicated nationwide once it is successful.

“I urge, therefore, all the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the project to join hands and make it a success for the benefit of the country,” said Minister Ndlovu.

The beef and leather value chain technical assistance project was primarily intended to improve production capacity, boost employment and exports as well as increase the sector’s contribution to the GDP through maximising value addition across the entire value chain.

“What is critical to note is that the trained business development service providers and financial counsellors will complement the Government extension officers in building capacities to the stakeholders in the beef and leather value chain in pilot areas of Matabeleland North and Bulawayo provinces,” he said.

Minister Ndlovu said successful implementation of the project would help in increasing output and contribution of the sub-sector to the growth in manufacturing sector. In this light, he said it was incumbent upon the business development service providers and financial counsellors who have been successfully trained as trainers to take the task ahead of them seriously and diligently to improve the livelihoods of the people in the pilot areas.

The minister said the aim of the project was to create a foundation upon which greater development of the beef and leather value chain can be effected beyond its three-year tenure.

“The eventual aim is to compete globally with the best but not in terms of the volumes but to take account of our beef and leather products such as hand crafts and artefacts in niche markets where finished products fetch a premium,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, AESA head of economic development lead consultant Mr Tommaso Spaini said their project was aimed at promoting economic development.

In an interview after the ceremony, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union vice president Mr Winston Babbage said the project would go a long way in capacitating farmers in Matabeleland.

“For example, those who have been awarded the certificates like the financial counsellors now have the task to go and evaluate the farmers’ capabilities to help them get loans from banks and probably from whatever facilities the Government might have,” he said.Chronicle