Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Chegutu farmers have welcomed the programme of Artificial Insemination (AI) of cows being spearheaded by Government as it will boost livestock production.
AI is the process of collecting semen from a male animal with desired traits and manually depositing them into the reproductive tract of a female. Speaking at the launch of the AI programme in Chegutu East on Thursday, the farmers said the programme, which was initiated by the Member of Parliament for the area, Cde Webster Shamu, was going to improve their cattle breeds and increase productivity.
The farmers said although they were aware of the need to improve the breed of their livestock, they could not afford to buy bulls with the good traits. Mr Daniel Mvemve of Neuso Village said he was happy to benefit from the programme and expected to have a good breed. “We used to see it being implemented at commercial farms and we never thought the programme would come to us,” he said.
Another farmer, Mr Mandhlenkosi Chinhamo of Larhone Farm in Chegutu East, applauded the programme, which he said was going to improve the value of cattle in communal areas. “Good breeds perform well and a farmer can realise high value for the animals,” he said. “We hope the programme will continue. I am glad the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development and our MP Cde Shamu came to our rescue.”
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister responsible for Livestock Cde Paddy Zhanda said over 60 cows from Chegutu had so far been artificially inseminated.
He said AI was also being done in various constituencies and it was good when the local leadership was at the forefront. “AI is going to be a national programme.We are targeting farmers, so we train them and they appreciate the benefits of AI,” said Cde Zhanda. “We have challenges with low productivity and low calving rate and this can be solved by artificial insemination.”
Cde Shamu urged farmers to be proactive and not wait for Government intervention all the time. “This is an educational process. We do not want to end on AI, but want farmers to add value to their livestock breeding,” he said. “Farmers should be self-reliant and not rely on Government.
“We are introducing knowledge to farmers so they can access technological development in terms of cattle breeding. We cannot give farmers cattle, but the only way we can improve livestock production is through equipping them with technical expertise on how they can handle their livestock.”