Livestock producers want urgent water summit
STAKEHOLDERS in the livestock sector are mulling the idea of holding an urgent summit to map out ways of curtailing rising cases of animal deaths due to water shortages on the backdrop of the firming probability of a season characterised with normal to below-normal rainfall, as predicted under the seasonal rainfall forecast.
In an interview yesterday, Livestock Farmers Union (LFU) chairperson Mr Sifiso Sibanda said a water summit would provide them with a platform to devise comprehensive strategies to deal with the problem and mobilise support from various stakeholders to tackle the matter and safeguard the well-being of both domestic and wild animals.
Mr Sibanda’s sentiments come in the wake of growing cases of livestock deaths because of water scarcity.
“As you can see, water is now the biggest challenge in the livestock sector. We are really on the edge because the country is very dry,” he observed.
Mr Sibanda cited areas like Tsholotsho, Gwanda, Beitbridge, Lupane, Mwenezi, Chivi and Gutu as some of the hardest-hit, adding that both domestic and wild animals were dying in those places.
He urged farmers not to just watch but think and try out any solutions and reduce the gravity of the unfolding livestock disaster.
“Of course there is a borehole drilling programme going on but we still need to engage Government in connection with cattle ranching areas so that boreholes are drilled with the target of saving animals,” he added.
People are also facing water challenges but the current water crisis is biting both domestic and wild animals more than people. Given a situation where people and animals share the same source of water, people have the first priority but for a farmer to survive he/she needs cattle for draught power, explained Mr Sibanda.
He also advised farmers to invest in water harvesting and drilling boreholes highlighting that it was cheaper to drill a borehole than to equip it. Added Mr Sibanda: “One challenge communities and farming areas are facing is in hiring equipment like bulldozers for damming streams and rivers to make water reservoirs. We need to conserve water and create a number of epic dams. This will help us a lot with boreholes near those areas also not readily drying up.”
Mr Sibanda explained that at one-point people in Tsholotsho would drill for between 90 and 100 metres but still not reach the water table something he felt would need the intervention of other stakeholders.
“We are now need Government and other stakeholders to unite and come up with fresh strategies. It will be helpful if we can secure equipment to block water ways and streams and create dams so that when the rains come we will be able to collect water for our livestock,” he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe concurred saying water harvesting should be a priority to every farmer to have enough water in the face of the projected normal to below-normal rainfall season.
“Water harvesting can also be practised even using shallow wells at this moment. It is critical to have water stored for future use in any structure that can hold it safely,” said Dr Makombe.