Ellen Chasokela Herald Reporter
Manicaland has registered a remarkable increase in cattle and goat production in the 2018/2019 season, a crop and livestock assessment report has revealed.
The overall number of cattle is 5 774 525 and 4 360 838 goats for 2018/2019 season compared to 5 578 381 cattle and 3 707 357 goats for the 2017/2018 season.
At least 716 262 cattle and 1 371 925 goats are available in Manicaland for the season 2018/2019 compared to 591 084 cattle and 637 123 goats for 2017/2018 season.
Masvingo is second with 1 277 577 cattle and 851 613 goats this season from 1 010 382 cattle and 625 541 last season while in third place Midlands has 922 890 cattle and 425 326 goats compared to 834 752 cattle and 425 326 goats last season.
According to the report, the condition of livestock is generally good in most districts across the country and grazing land is available to last from four months to eight months in most districts.
However, some districts in Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Masvingo will have serious grazing challenges as grazing availability will last up to three months.
Some communal areas in Mashonaland, Midlands and Manicaland provinces will have shortage of grazing due to overgrazing and poor veld quality.
In worst affected districts, the livestock is currently surviving mainly on browse and crop residues from failed crops.
Available graze and browse will not be able to maintain the current livestock condition especially for beef cattle if drought mitigation measures are not put in place urgently.
The national calving rates remain very low and are ranging from 38 percent in communal areas to 45 percent in the large scale commercial sector against a national target of 60 percent.
Regulated markets which offer the best returns are mainly found in the Matabeleland provinces. The other provinces are urged to have regulated livestock markets rather than open markets.
Meanwhile, annual milk production has continued on an upward trajectory since 2015 as the national dairy herd continues to grow. Total production in 2018 rose by 13,6 percent to 75,4 million, litres up from 66,4 million litres in 2017.