Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
The number of livestock that have succumbed to drought has reached 19 300 countrywide. However, the number could be more as some of the deaths are not recorded.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development deputy minister responsible for livestock Cde Paddy Zhanda on Monday confirmed that the number of cattle dying as a result of drought was increasing each day and the situation was dire.
There are no pastures and water sources including boreholes in the affected areas.
He said the recent rains the country received were just relief and if it did not continue raining, the national herd was at risk.
“The southern parts of the country have been seriously hit by the drought. The situation remains critical until it rains. It is unfortunate that farmers wait to sell their livestock when struck by disasters, and there will be few takers for the animals. Now farmers are willing to sell the cattle, but the condition has deteriorated and few people would want to buy them. Farmers have a culture of clinging on to their cattle even during hard times,” he said.
Cde Zhanda said Government was trying to save the animals, but was also facing financial challenges, since it was also tasked with the duty of sourcing food for vulnerable families.
The Division of Livestock and Production Development (LPD) deputy director, Mr Munyaradzi Chimowa, said the most affected areas were Chipinge South, Chiredzi, Chivi, Mberengwa, Kezi, Beitbridge and Matopo among others.
“Some of the deaths have not been recorded and the figure could be above 19 300.
“Farmers are urged to sell some of the unproductive livestock to get cash to buy feeds to save the remaining herd.
“Farmers can also source grazing from under-stocked A2 farms and areas adjacent to national parks provided they adhere to veterinary conditions,” he said.
Livestock farmers are so desperate that they are now selling the cattle at give away prices to get money to buy stockfeeds or the remaining herd. Some farmers have complained that Government should have transferred the affected livestock to the Cold Storage Company ranches where there are better grazings and water facilities.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development deputy minister responsible for crop production and irrigation, Cde Davis Marapira said CSC ranches were under lease.