Govt should rein in errant cattle buyers

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MATABELELAND South Provincial Affairs minister Abednico Ncube last week raised an important issue when he threatened to block cattle buyers taking advantage of the drought in the province to buy livestock form villagers at ridiculous prices.

Buyers from Bulawayo and other provinces reportedly buy cattle for as low as $200 from desperate farmers, most of them who would be desperately seeking money to buy food and pay school fees.

Speaking at the official opening of the Bakwayi Feedlot under Chief Bakwayi in Kezi’s Ward 13, Ncube said villagers put a lot into fattening their cattle only to be cheated by urban-based buyers.

Ncube said people should not expect to buy cattle for $200 because farmers go through a lot to fatten them for the market.

He noted that farmers buy stockfeeds, vaccines and dipping chemicals and the prices being offered by unscrupulous buyers mean they can never recoup their investments.

Farmers who last year lost hundreds of cattle to drought, especially in Matobo district, find themselves with no choice but to sell their livestock at giveaway prices.

Ncube should not just threaten to block the buyers but the government must be moving in to stop this daylight robbery.

To start with, the government must ensure that people have enough food so that they do not find themselves being forced to sell their livestock, which they need for draught power.

Farmers need the cattle and goats for their nutritional requirements as they also get milk.

Ncube should be lobbying the government to regulate cattle sales and implement serious drought-alleviation measures in the province, which is becoming more prone to poor rainfall.

In the same breath, Matobo villagers should be commended for coming together to Bakwayi Feedlot.

The project, which accommodates villagers from Ward 13 and 14, has 72 members and 30 head of cattle, but is still open to accepting all the villagers in the two wards.

Organisations such as Stichting Nederlandse Vrijwilligers Zimbabwe and the Food Agricultural Organisation have assisted villagers establish five feedlots in the district to enable villagers to fatten their cattle and enable them to fetch higher prices and this should be applauded.