Communal farmers urge CSC to set up shop in Beitbridge
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Communal farmers here have urged the Cold Storage Company (CSC) and other renowned investors to set up shop in the area where livestock production is a major economic activity and is a source of livelihood. In separate interviews last week, the farmers said ferrying their cattle to markets in Bulawayo, Masvingo and Harare was expensive.
They said the unavailability of established abattoirs locally had put them at the mercy of middlemen who buy their livestock at below market prices.
It is estimated that there are over 100 000 cattle, 150 000 goats, 60 000 sheep, 37 000 donkeys, 5 000 pigs and 40 000 poultry in the district.
On average, a cow is sold for $600 on the market, though middlemen buy them at half the price depending on how desperate the farmer would be.
“We are incurring a lot of costs in transporting our livestock to the market in Bulawayo, Masvingo or Harare,” said Mr Gibson Makhadho, who is also an acting headman in Beitbridge West Constituency.
“Though we are having cattle sales around ward centres, the values are below expectation. In addition, these cattle sales are held once a month, which is not sustainable. We are tired of dealing with middlemen. As communal farmers we wish to deal directly with CSC.
“It is important for them (CSC) to set shop in this district to reduce distance most people are travelling to get value for their livestock.
“At the same time we urge Government to resuscitate the West Nicholson beef canning plant, which will not only boost livestock production, but also help to improve self-sustenance for most farmers in Beitbridge, Gwanda and Matabeleland South.”
Mr Makhadho said the Government should increase support to communal farmers involved in cattle ranching and related livestock rearing considering that crop husbandry was not sustainable under the current climatic conditions. He said they needed funding to buy equipment, stock feeds and medication for cattle and goats.
Mr Makhadho said the few communal farmers were engaging in crop husbandry because their crops were being destroyed by wild animals, especially those living close to water bodies.
“Elephants have become a perennial headache as they continue destroying the villagers’ crops every farming season,” said Mr Makhadho.
Mr Matthew Muleya of Masera village said, “The issue of middlemen getting our livestock for a song is worrying. We also appeal to government to increase support to small scale farmers.
“We need more heifers, stock feeds schemes and marketing of our products. In short, cattle ranching is our lifeblood.”
Ms Nyaleni Ndou of Ndambe area said there was also a need for women in the district to be actively involved in livestock production.
Mr Philip Ndou of Swereki said they were looking at investors who would not only focus on meat but also extend operations to related activities, which include beef canning, leather products, medication and stock feeds among other initiatives.