Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Pastures Diminish In Mat South

Pastures Diminish In Mat South

Mandla Tshuma 2 Apr 2015

cattle 2BULAWAYO — Pastures are fast depleting in Matabeleland South, the country’s drought-prone province owing to a country-wide prolonged dry spell. This has raised fears that a devastating drought like the one which ravaged the province during the 2012-2013 season leaving over 9 000 cattle dead, could resurface.Matabeleland South this year, received very low rainfall which has also negatively impacted on the crops, especially maize, with villagers already appealing for food handouts.
Last week, the province’s chief livestock specialist, Simangaliphi Ngwabi revealed that available grazing was unlikely to last until the next rainy season with only 44 percent in good
condition, warning unless farmers came up with drought mitigation measures a number of cattle could succumb to drought.

The conditions of livestock, particularly cattle, according to the specialist would start deteriorating as early as May. That will be after mid-April when additional grazing area provided for by open fields would have been used up.  Compared to last year the situation has deteriorated.

Major dams are 60 percent full in all the province’s seven districts — Beitbridge, Gwanda, Umzingwane, Insiza, Matobo, Bulilima and Mangwe — while small dams and rivers have dried up with siltation remaining a major threat that could reduce water holding capacity and would result in surface water not lasting up to the next rainy season.

Ngwabi however revealed 70 percent of the livestock in the province was still in good condition except in Beitbridge, Gwanda, Bulilima and Mangwe where the situation was becoming bad.

As at November last year, Matabeleland South has a total of 636 441 cattle.
“Drought is imminent in Matabeleland South Province and it could be more severe than the 2012/13 season that led to the loss of 9 000 cattle,” said Ngwabi.

“Out of the 636 441 cattle in the province, 364 622 cattle are at risk, which means about half of the cattle will require survival feed or whatever intervention people may come up with.”
She said if no measures were taken to curb the water situation, the province would experience severe water shortages and animals could die as 58 percent of livestock get water from major dams and boreholes.

Farmers in some parts of Beitbridge, Ngwabi said, have started moving their cattle to areas with better grazing outside the district, to avoid cattle losses. Measures like cutting of hay
should start this month and old and unproductive animals should be culled while still in good condition to reduce pressure on the little available grazing land, she said.
She also encouraged farmers and private players to get into in joint ventures.

Jonathan Nsingo, director for Nyamazana auctioneers, an organisation facilitating the sale of cattle in Matabeleland South, however said farmers were ready to off-load their livestock
but there were no straight-forward buyers. He bemoaned the collapse of the Cold Storage Company which used to buy livestock through organised cattle sales.
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