Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Matabeleland cattle sales suspended

Matabeleland cattle sales suspended

cattle drink
Pamela Shumba Senior Reporter

CATTLE sales have been suspended in Matabeleland provinces following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Bulawayo, a development that has seriously affected thousands of commercial and communal farmers who survive on cattle ranching. The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development suspended the sales and banned the movement of cattle in the region after the disease was detected in three beasts that were sold at Cattle Sales at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) showgrounds in Bulawayo.

Cattle sales conducted by CC Sales which sells between 450 and 500 cattle per week, have been suspended and many farmers and buyers were yesterday left stranded.

There are concerns that the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease might affect the Bulawayo Agricultural Show, a major attraction at the ZITF, which starts on April 28 to May 2.

Foot-and-mouth disease has so far been recorded in Matabeleland South, Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

In Matabeleland South, selling of cattle was banned about three months ago.

Matabeleland North provincial head of the department of veterinary services, Dr Polex Moyo, yesterday said the government had launched an investigation to ascertain the gravity of the outbreak.

“We’ve launched an investigation to try and establish the extent of the problem. We’re therefore advising farmers to stop selling and moving cattle for the next two weeks as we’ve to inspect all cattle in the region,” said Moyo.

“This will assist us to assess the seriousness of the disease outbreak and take appropriate action.”

He said his department would only be able to give a comprehensive report on the outbreak next week.

Farmers in the region are feeling the pinch.

Methuseli Moyo from Insiza North, Matabeleland South, said he had not been able to sell his cattle for the past two months following the cattle sale ban in the province.

He said it was unfortunate that the government was not taking livestock breeding seriously yet it was the major economic driver in the region.

“Selling cattle is business for some of us. I haven’t been able to sell my cattle for the past two months and this seriously affected me financially,” said Moyo.

“I would like to appeal to the government to take livestock farming seriously as it does to tobacco, wheat and maize farming.”

He criticised the veterinary department for not communicating with farmers, which results in some farmers moving cattle without authority.

“We pay cattle levy but the veterinary department is letting us down. Farmers are told about the ban only when they seek clearance from the department. The department has inadequate vaccinations and officials are immobile,” he said.

“As a result, people move cattle without authority and there’s a danger that the disease will spread nationally.”

Moyo said CC Sales was the region’s cattle trade centre, adding that its closure was a heavy blow to farmers.

Another farmer from Umguza District Gibson Sibanda said the shutting down of CC Sales was a huge inconvenience as he had nowhere else to sell his cattle.

“This is a serious issue that needs urgent attention from the government. There are some cattle that are being moved from Midlands to Bulawayo and there is a need to put in place security measures to ensure that the disease doesn’t spread,” said Sibanda.

“I hope the auction reopens soon because that’s where most farmers sell their cattle.”

He also said the development had also affected cattle prices, with some cattle buyers taking advantage of farmers who were desperate for money.

A CC sales official, Richard Wakefield said the development had seriously affected his company’s operations.

“The shutdown will seriously affect farmers and our operations here. I hope that we’ll reopen before the trade fair. The disease was detected in three heifers, two of which went to Matopo and one to Gwanda,” said Wakefield.

The heifers started showing clinical signs of foot-and-mouth five days after they were sold here. The veterinary department will investigate where they came from.”


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