Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Matabeleland Livestock Threatened

Matabeleland Livestock Threatened

Staff Reporter 5 Nov 2015
cattle 2

It is not every farmer that has money to buy stock feed.

BULAWAYO — The condition of livestock in Matabeleland, especially cattle, has deteriorated owing to depleted pastures and water sources, with the situation likely to worsen should the rains further delay.
The Meteorological Services Department has indicated that there is a high likelihood of a late start to the 2015-2016 cropping season for the whole country.
In Matabeleland South, which is the hardest hit, isolated incidents of cattle succumbing to drought have been recorded, raising fears that a devastating drought like the one which ravaged the province during the 2012-2013 agricultural season, leaving over 9 000 cattle dead, could recur.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union national livestock chairperson, Irene Maphenduka, said the condition of the cattle in the two rural provinces of Matabeleland – Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North – was no longer tenable.
“The situation is no longer good although in Matabeleland North; it’s not that very bad compared to Matabeleland South,” Maphenduka told the Financial Gazette.
She said in Matabeleland South, the situation was so dire that hay, which farmers had cut and preserved for their livestock in the past season, had been exhausted, with cattle ranchers now buying supplementary feeding from Bulawayo.
“It is not every farmer that has money to buy stock feed and what we are saying to them is that they can sell one or two beasts, raise the money and save the rest of the cattle that they have,” she explained.
Benedict Moyo, a cattle farmer in Shangani, blamed bush fires for depleting of pastures in Matabeleland South.
“The situation on pastures is very bad as people have been reckless with burning some grass meant for the cattle,” said Moyo.
“We are just praying that we receive rains during the first week of November and if we don’t, we are doomed.”
The solution to the country’s agricultural woes lies, according to Moyo, in financial institutions extending lines of credit to farmers and accepting their 99-year leases as collateral.
Matabeleland South livestock specialist, Simangaliphi Ngwabi, said in addition to scarce pastures, water sources have depleted in the province, adding that some livestock were already dying as a result.
She said with the Meteorological Services Department having warned of normal to below normal rains this coming cropping season, farmers should begin cutting hay for their cattle as early as January and February if they are to avoid a catastrophe towards the end of 2016.
Due to perennial droughts and outbreak of diseases such as foot and mouth and black leg as well as the failure to restock by farmers, Matabeleland is no longer the leader in cattle production in the country.
newsdesk@fingaz.co.zw

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