Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday challenged the country's livestock farmers to draw up a strategy that would lead to placing good quality meat on the domestic market, and thus reducing the level of meat imports.
The challenge came from the National Director of Veterinary Services, Americo Conceicao, at a meeting in Maputo with cattle farmers, importers, and representatives of slaughterhouses and supermarket chains, held to discuss Mozambican meat production.
Conceicao urged that all stakeholders should work together to ensure a complete meat value chain and to take advantage of the potential market that is currently being filled by imports. He said that the supermarkets are willing to buy Mozambican beef, and that commercial cattle farmers have claimed they can supply some of this meat. What was needed now was for the cattle farmers to be more organized.
Conceicao said Mozambique currently consumes about 21,000 tonnes of beef a year. Although Mozambique's cattle herd is growing by about five per cent a year, imports still account for almost 30 per cent (6,000 tonnes) of the national demand for beef.
The growth in the cattle herd is still below the seven per cent a year stipulated in the government's Agricultural Sector Development Programme (PEDSA), but Conceicao insisted that the target remains that Mozambique should be self-sufficient in all livestock products by 2019.
“Currently annual beef production in the country is 15,476 tonnes”, he said. Rather more than half of this production (8.478 tonnes) comes from the traditional livestock farming provinces in the south of the country (Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo).
To meet the target of self-sufficiency in livestock products by 2019, the Veterinary Services Directorate is promoting technologies to raise production and productivity and to improve quality.
“The conditions for genetic improvement now exist”, said Conceicao. “We are also working on the necessary conditions for setting up a fattening centre”. These measures would be of key importance in increasing the quantity and improving the quality of meat production.
The main outlet for Mozambican beef is the South African Shoprite supermarket chain, now present in most major Mozambican cities. The Shoprite stores are buying about 150 head of beef cattle a week - which is 93 per cent of the beef produced by Mozambican cattle farmers. Conceicao said this was a clear sign of the improved quality of Mozambican beef.
He added that the efforts to consolidate the meat value chain should not exclude small scale livestock producers, since they too have a role to play in meeting the 2019 target for self-sufficiency.