EU maintains Zim beef exports ban

BULAWAYO - European Union (EU) ban on local beef exports will remain effective, until a quality commission has certified the origins as well as traceability of the country’s beef to allay suspicions that Zimbabwe is slaughtering cattle from Botswana, an EU envoy has said.

Speaking in Bulawayo this week, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’ Ariccia said beef exports would not resume if Zimbabwe continues to slaughter beef from neighbouring Botswana.

“You are slaughtering cattle from Botswana. In other words we can say you want to export meat that does not originate from your country,” the EU envoy said.

The country’s beef industry has been struggling for over a decade, since the EU banned meat imports from Zimbabwe due to disease outbreak and has not recovered ever since.

EU banned Zimbabwean beef exports in August 2001 after a foot and mouth disease outbreak which has since been contained.

Dell’ Ariccia said foot and mouth diseases were still a cause for concern with regards to Zimbabwean beef which was renowned for its quality.

“The reason which led to the suspension of beef exports is the foot and mouth disease,” he said, although admitting that Zimbabwe produced excellent beef.

“We have been working with authorities that control foot and mouth to help regain the quality of beef. You produce excellent meat in Zimbabwe, especially from Matabeleland but you should make sure that all conditions are met.”

Dell’ Ariccia was responding to concerns from livestock farmers in Matabeleland who considered it time for the EU to lift the ban.

The EU envoy said Zimbabwe needed to improve its fencing of paddocks that are near game reserves so that cattle do not mix with wildlife.

“We have wildlife in contact with cattle which is unacceptable according to international standards,” Dell Ariccia said.

Perennial droughts and lack of stock feeds have also hampered growth of the national herd which according to the Finance ministry stands at 5,4 million and 27 000 dairy cows.

Thousands of cattle died in Matabeleland a region considered a prime beef producing area and a hub of cattle ranching in Zimbabwe. This reduced the country’s chances of regaining its status as one of the prime beef exporters in Africa.

Beef production was once the pride for commercial farming sector, contributing $100 million per year.

Dell’ Ariccia however said, Zimbabwe had access to other European markets and trade for other products had doubled since 2009.

“Zimbabwe has access to European markets, duty free and no quotas. Trade between EU and Zimbabwe has doubled from 2009,” the EU envoy said.

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