OVER 1 000 cattle have died in Mberengwa and Zvishavane districts due to inadequate pastures and acute water shortages. People now travel long distances to fetch water for their animals.
According to a report presented to Midlands Minister of State, Cde Jason Machaya, 560 cattle died in Mberengwa and 450 in Zvishavane.
Shurugwi lost 110 cattle as at January 8.
Minister Machaya said the major cause was lack of pastures and acute water shortages that have been exacerbated by the dry spell and below average rains that the country is experiencing.
“There are over 1 300 reported cases of cattle deaths in the province. Mberengwa alone has recorded 560 deaths and Zvishavane recorded 450 while Shurugwi recorded 110 cases,” said Cde Machaya.
“Gweru had 90 deaths while Gokwe North had 38, Kwekwe had 14, Gokwe South 18 and Chirumanzu 18 deaths,” he said. “This is mainly due to water shortages and inadequate pastures. There is need for Government to move in immediately to save the provincial herd,” he said.
Minister Machaya said the province was in the process of identifying farms that had small herds but with abundant pastures so that cattle from Mberengwa and Zvishavane could be moved to those farms.
“Government has embarked on a supplementary feeding programme where they are selling stock feeds at subsidised prices to save the cattle,” he said.
“Tomorrow (today), we will convene a meeting with the veterinary services department, livestock department and other stakeholders to identify farms that have pastures but with small herds so that they can accommodate cattle from other areas where pastures are now scarce,” he said.
Mberengwa West Member of Parliament, Dr Joram Gumbo, who is also the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, said the dire situation was worsened by inadequate water sources in Mberengwa.
“There are no dams in Mberengwa North and South, a situation which has seen most people fetching water from distant areas. Most dams are in Mberengwa South, which leaves other areas very susceptible to drought considering that we have received below average rainfall this season. Cattle are the major source of income for people in Mberengwa and if the situation remains the same people will plunge into poverty,” he said.