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Beef to run short

The present excessive supply of all meat products will lead to a protracted period of severe shortages later this year, the First Merchant Bank has warned. Some even believe the shortage could start as early as early as July.

The bank says abattoir through put has increased more than double the normal intake as cattle producers respond to the drought. Even in areas less severely affected, it says, farmers are selling to reduce their herd because of the huge increases in the price of stockfeeds.

It also warns that the country may end up with less than half its herd after the drought.

Pork and poultry will also run short because producers are trying to quickly dispose of their pigs and chickens because of the shortage of stockfeeds as well as its steep prices.

Zimbabweans have faced severe beef shortages in the past but a shortage this time will be disastrous as there is already a shortage of other basics especially mealie-meal.

The shortage could also push up the prices of vegetables which are already beyond the reach of many. Already substitutes for mealie-meal, like potatoes, are now beyond the reach of the average worker.

The situation in the dairy industry is not pleasing either as most farmers are reported to be slaughtering their cows because the industry is no longer viable.

The price of stockfeeds has risen by 107 percent and electricity by 91 per cent while the producer price went up by 5 per cent a year from 1985 to 1990, 36 per cent last year and 14.3 percent this year.

The industry now needs $1.2 million a week to feed its dairy herd. Current demand for milk is estimated at 350 million litres a year but the industry is only producing 250 million.

Although the dairy herd is expected to shrink by 30 per cent there is likely to be no shortage of milk as more and more people become unable to afford it.

There are strong fears that the 34 percent consumer price increase in March will be met by a strong consumer resistance. Moreover, the price is also likely to go up within a few months to meet the increased producer price.

(25 VIEWS)

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