$2.3m beef, leather value chain project begins

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Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
THE $2.3 million beef and leather value chain project has started in Matabeleland North province amid hopes the initiative will contribute towards growth of the region and the country’s economy.

Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister, Dr Mike Bimha, yesterday said implementation of the project was already underway in Matabeleland North province and would be spread to other areas.

Government partnered the African Development Bank (AfDB) to avail a $2.3 million facility mid-this year for the pilot project whose focus is to provide support to the beef and leather sector in Matabeleland.

“The idea was to implement as soon as the launch was done and I believe things are moving on the ground. What I can say for now is that there is a lot of work being done on the ground and we are just waiting for the progress report, which we hope to get early next year so that we see what has happened so far,” said Dr Bimha in an interview.

Government and its development partner engaged an audit firm and consultant to carry out procurement and consultation services to implement, monitor and evaluate the project.

Dr Bimha said the financier and consulting firm were busy on the ground, as the project is running parallel to the country’s Command Livestock programme.

“This is a separate project from Command Livestock, which is our own programme. The beef and leather value chain is a different programme that is funded separately but with one ultimate goal of growing the economy. The focus is on value chain, which involves putting to use beef, hides, bones and everything from a cow and it will definitely help to grow the economy,” he said.

The Minister highlighted that the programme will also contribute to the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) where the beef and leather sector is one of the most critical areas that need capital injection.

Government’s intention was to initiate the project in Matabeleland and spread to other provinces once it becomes successful.

The Matabeleland region boasts of good quality livestock. The overall aim of the project is to strengthen the competiveness of the beef and leather value chain. The AfDB availed funding for the support of Zimbabwe’s beef and leather value chain under a technical assistance project, whose objective is to catalyse the country’s economic growth and contribute in addressing Zimbabwe’s fragility through reviving the beef and leather industry.

The project implementers are already seeking to engage financial counsellors to mobilise small scale farmers and entrepreneurs for the project in Matabeleland North’s seven districts Lupane, Hwange, Binga, Bubi, Nkayi, Tsholotsho and Umguza.

At present, Zimbabwe’s leather industry is operating at a subdued capacity despite opportunities in markets such as Sadc and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa as well as further abroad. — @ncubeleon

Article Source: The Chronicle