Ministry acts over swine fever outbreak
Happiness Zengeni and Felex Share
Government has taken measures to control the spread of contagious small ruminants diseases that have affected parts of Mukumbura in Mashonaland Central. Deputy Minister for Agriculture responsible for Livestock Production Paddy Zhanda said Government is engaging stakeholders and livestock farmers to conscientise them on the African Swine Fever outbreak and how to control its spread.
“I can confirm that ASF outbreak in Mukumbura area. We suspect that it may have found its way into the country from Mozambique. “We are meeting stakeholders to ensure we control its spread,” said Deputy Minister Zhanda. Measures have already been put in place including mounting roadblocks to stop movement of pork from the affected areas.
“We are encouraging farmers not to let their pigs roam about, but confine their pigs to their homesteads. We have mounted roadblocks to stop pork from the affected areas. We also want butcheries in the affected areas to stop selling pork and pork products,” said Deputy Minister Zhanda.
African Swine Fever has no vaccines and Government is closely monitoring the situation. Minister Zhanda said in the event that the outbreak becomes unmanageable Government will be left with no choice but to burn all the pigs in the affected areas.
Deputy Minister Zhanda said another small ruminants plague known as Peste des petit ruminants (PPR) has also been reported mainly from Zambia. For the PPR Government is encouraging farmers to report any signs to the veterinary services.
Deputy Minister Zhanda was speaking at the Boka Tobacco Auction Floors Growers Forum held at Chiunye Primary School in Mt Darwin on Sunday.
At the same meeting Local Government, National Housing and Public Works Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said tobacco farmers should take knowledge they receive from experts seriously if they were to achieve higher growth levels and improved quality
Minister Kasukuwere is also the legislator for Mt Darwin South. Minister Kasukuwere said improved tobacco output and quality would only come with maximum utilisation of land and application of the relevant knowledge. “We should build our country with agriculture and note that it was not a mistake to take the land,” he said.
The forum created a platform for interaction among tobacco farmers and service providers such as insurance companies, buyers, research institutions as well as Government departments. The agrarian reform saw many black farmers taking up tobacco farming, previously a preserve of a few white commercial growers, but many do not have adequate knowledge of growing the crop.
It has also brought negative effects on the environment, which has resulted in the wanton cutting down of trees, which farmers use for curing. These were some of the issues that were deliberated during the forum.
Minister Kasukuwere appealed to fertiliser manufacturers to sell their products at reasonable prices and urged farmers to engage insurance firms to be cushioned in the event of droughts.
“Climate change is affecting us and we have to have ways of dealing with it such that year in year out we do not work for nothing.” Deputy Minister Zhanda said: “We do not want over reliance on Government, Members of Parliament or councillors.
“Be self-sufficient and that is why we are saying sit down with the stakeholders and see where you are going wrong and improve next season. “This is vital because even if you are given hordes of money, without knowledge nothing will come out.”
BTF marketing director Ms Chido Nyakudya, said the forum would prepare farmers well ahead of the coming tobacco season. “Farmers should be told of what is expected of them as they come to the floor with their leaf and we are trying to give them as much information together with the other stakeholders. This is the only way they can fetch high prices.”