Zimbabwe's pork industry has fallen on hard times, with producers shutting down after facing viability challenges, a new report has revealed.
Official statistics released by the Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (Lmac) last week illustrate the depth of the crisis at hand, with cumulative pig slaughters falling by 5% in 2020 to 183 888 after producers confronted obstacles ranging from inferior breeds to lack of capital and high feed and drug costs.
The report said monthly pig slaughters fell to 15 324 last year, compared to 16 152 in 2019.
"Dislocations in the supply of raw materials, along with the rising cost of stockfeed and lack of accessibility, have been compounded by reduced spending of consumers," said the report, which covered the fourth quarter of 2020.
"A costing model developed by the Pig Industry Board, in December 2020 (showed) a kilogramme of pork cost US$2,55 to produce and, as a result, some producers are facing viability challenges and are either downscaling or closing operations."
About 80% of pig producers are small-scale farmers, a section of the economy that has been struggling to access capital.
The report said production was concentrated in Mashonaland West and Harare provinces.
Pig producer and wholesale prices for the year to December 2020 rose by 600% and 570%, respectively.
In 2019, producer and wholesale prices had risen by 648% and 762%, respectively.
Wholesale prices, when compared to producer prices, carried margins varying between 15-51%, reflecting an improvement in profit for wholesalers that ranged between 13-40% in 2019.
"However, using the parallel market rate, pork producer and wholesale prices declined from January through to May 2020 before recovering over the rest of the year," it said.
Producer prices for 2020 ranged between US$0,95 and US$2,43 per kg while wholesale prices traded between US$1,49 and US$3,09/kg.
Lmac said the good rains received during the last quarter of 2020 brought hope for the domestic economy and offered the best economic stimulus package to lift the pig sector out of the deep recession experienced over the last two years.
The organisation said disease outbreaks, mainly African swine fever (ASF), foot-and-mouth disease and anthrax, were reported at the beginning of the year but then subsided during the year.
Regionally, South Africa experienced disease outbreaks that resulted in import embargoes and caused production glitches, largely in the commercial pig sector.
Globally, the spread of ASF continued to have an adverse effect on pig populations in Asia and Eastern Europe and production in China was seriously affected.
China, the European Union, the United States, Brazil and Russia are the biggest producers of pork and cumulatively supplying 86% of total production.
In Africa, Nigeria and South Africa are the key pork producing countries.