There is hindsight relief for Mangetti farmers who have for years cried for a profitable market for their livestock, against the backdrop of the Veterinary Cordon Fence, which they say has been disadvantaging them in terms of access to lucrative markets south of the redline.
Now, there is a possibility that the area might be rezoned and cleared as a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) prone area, pending a feasibility study being conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform in conjunction with the Meatco Foundation.
Currently, Mangetti falls north of the veterinary cordon fence, which is regarded as an FMD-prone zone. There is an estimated high-quality livestock population in Mangetti area in excess of 200 000.
According to the CEO of Meatco’s newly-established subsidiary, the Meatco Northern Communal Area, Kingsley Kwenani, the feasibility study is near completion and shows the project is viable.
“The government has instituted a feasibility study for the rezoning and creation of a new second zone. So, the ministry is busy with that feasibility study, as well as conducting an environmental impact assessment, which is almost done and anticipated to be complete by end of November,” said Kwenani, who served as the executive director prior to his appointment as CEO earlier this year.
“So, those two studies are ongoing and expected to be completed end of November. It is only then we will know whether the ministry will approve or not,” added Kwenani.
This development comes more than a year after the Meatco Foundation held meetings with Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) farmers to devise ways on how a market can be created, improved and to encourage beef consumption.
“From those meetings, the feasibility studies followed. But there is a good sign it is a feasible project and the environmental impact assessment is not that bad; that’s where it stands now. So, give us time until end of November to provide a comprehensive report. However, it is a worthy project that will assist farmers,” stressed Kwenani.
During 2019 meetings, the Meatco Foundation revealed that NCAs farmers were net importers of beef south of the redline despite having thousands of livestock.
At the time, Kwenani cited statistics based on a 2013 report, which indicated that NCAs do not consume their own meat. It was estimated that 112 460 cattle were consumed per annum. Of that, 69 868 were slaughtered for weddings and funerals, while 12 240 were traded through open markets and roadside stalls – and only 30 352 were consumed through formal business market outlets.
“It is estimated that formal business markets import about 42.2% of their beef south of the red line. A consumer survey conducted indicated that formal businesses are unable to procure locally from NCAs because fresh produced and processed meat was insufficient and supply was unreliable. The meat is also of low quality,” said Kawani.