Agrobusiness - Featured - Top Stories - April 7, 2021

Farmer records top two best steers after pen fattening

Sakhile Phiri (Bulawayo Correspondent)

A small to medium-scale beef cattle producer, Pahlela Phikanisi (60) recorded the top two best-selling steers after pen fattening meant to increase live weights and improve degree of finish and thus obtain better grades.

Phikanisi of Musisinyane village of Chikombedzi in Chiredzi district was one of the 38 farmers who comprised of 30 males and 8 females, who inducted their cattle at the Mhlanguleni and Chanienga Satellite cattle business centres (CBC) feedlots in the Chiredzi district.

In the recent Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme newsletter, Phikanisi said he sold the two brahman cross after feedloting them and they were valued at US$2 064.

“I sold two Brahman cross steers after feedloting them for 45 days during which time they gained an average weight of 95 kg. The two animals weighed 690kg and 670kg and improved grade from economy at induction, up to commercial at slaughter. They had a total value of US$ 2 064 after slaughter,” he said.

He also noted that after deductions for the costs feed, induction, grading and inspection, he took home US$1 682 and used part of the proceeds to purchase a variety of household items for his family and agricultural inputs for the 4-hectare plot where he planted maize and sorghum.

Phikanisi highlighted that in their area they have been struggling with a market dominated by middlemen who purchase cattle at very low prices and then make huge profits.

He added: “This scenario discourages many farmers and we have realised that this trend also discourages investment in animal husbandry by the farmers in the district.”

Lack of organised marketing of cattle in Zimbabwe is one of the bottlenecks affecting beef cattle production. As a result, smallholder farmers resort to the informal way of marketing their cattle, with middlemen arbitrarily setting prices and offloading the animals at cattle auction points and to abattoirs in towns often benefiting more than the farmers themselves.

Meanwhile, the newsletter also noted that the Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (BEST) project engaged First Mutual Micro Finance (FMMF) to pre-finance purchase of feed from Windmill for pen fattening.

It also noted that farmers signed a contract with the financier to pay for their feed and for MC Meats to deduct its value and repay the loan when the cattle were slaughtered.

Part of the statement also read: “For 43 cattle at Muhlanguleni CBC feedlot in Chiredzi district, FMMF advanced a loan value of US$5 910 and recorded 100 percent loan repayment. The company realised a net income of US$1 443 within 45 days. MC Meats was the off-taker and realised net income of US$5 008 from the 43 cattle fattened at the Muhlanguleni CBC feedlot. The plan is to enrol many more farmers around Muhlanguleni CBC and run three cycles of 60 feeders each during the 2021 pen fattening cycle.”

The BEST project meant to eradicate poverty and achieve inclusive growth in efficient agriculture is one of six projects that are supported by the 40 million Euros funding from the European Union (EU) under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme. The project is being implemented in five provinces of Zimbabwe: Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Matabeleland North.

Through the establishment of the cattle business centre (CBC) model, the project seeks to improve small to medium scale beef cattle production. The CBC is established at a central location, accessible to cattle producers and key beef value chain actors.

It is run commercially by an identified private sector company on behalf of the local cattle business association and farmers can access critical inputs like stockfeeds, hay bales, veterinary drugs as well as financial services for pen fattening.

Private sector companies have been engaged to provide technical and extension services as well as inputs and output market.

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