New feed and fodder production intensification strategies

Ashton Mutyavaviri

AMID intensifying efforts to improve the performance of the livestock sector towards meeting the national herd target of 11 million by 2030, Government has promised maximum support to initiatives boosting livestock feed and fodder production.

In a recent X (formerly Twitter) post, Livestock Production and Department (LPD) deputy director Mrs Rutendo Nyahoda said Government was planning to introduce feed and fodder production at every existing irrigation scheme to support the livestock sector.

“The increase in both human and animal population versus insufficient rainfall amounts from the 2023/24 summer season have caused significant reduction in natural grazing lands and left some water sources dry, making it increasingly challenging for livestock farmers to meet their animals’ nutritional requirements,” said Mrs Nyahoda.

She highlighted the creation of feed and fodder reserves as one strategy implemented by the Government to improve the livestock sector.

“Creating feed and fodder reserves specifically for livestock helps to reduce competition for food between humans and animals during the challenging periods,” she observed.

To address the nutrition issues affecting the livestock industry, Government has introduced various measures, which include the Presidential Silage Scheme, the Presidential Legume Pasture Programme (creation of fodder banks) and the Presidential Borehole Drilling Programme to mitigate water shortage and improve access to irrigation and drinking water.

Government has also introduced the Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan (LRGP), a blueprint with strategies to improve livestock production and productivity. One of the pillars addressed in the growth plan is livestock nutrition

Livestock and livestock products contribute significantly to the Zimbabwean economy, with cattle accounting for 35 to 38 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) contributed by the agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, the Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services (ARDAS) recently underscored the need for livestock farmers to have at least a plot of fodder and a source of clean water to improve their livestock’s nutrition.

ARDAS further hinted that the establishment of dedicated fodder plots was crucial for ensuring the survival and productivity of livestock during the challenging times.

The production of feed is expected to reduce the cost of commercial feed and improve cattle production and profitability to enable farmers to realise the full value of their livestock.

Livestock Farmers Union (LFU) chairperson Mr Sifiso Sibanda concurred saying farmers must intensify fodder production to address the shortage of quality feeds and enhance livestock health.

Mr Sibanda said smallholder cattle farmers were prone to cattle poverty deaths during the dry season, as both feed quality and quantity would be compromised.

Added Mr Sibanda: “The intensified fodder production drive is expected to have positive effects on the livestock sector, leading to improved animal health, increased milk and meat production and enhanced farmer incomes. It will also contribute to food security by reducing the country’s reliance on imported animal feeds.”

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