Matabeleland cattle farmers need $300 million relief

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THE MATABELELAND region urgently needs about $300 million to revive livestock production as it emerged yesterday ranchers are set to convene an indaba in Bulawayo next week to come up with measures to salvage cattle farming which is currently in comatose.

GAMMA MUDARIKIRI
OWN CORRESPONDeNT

In an interview with Southern Eye Business Matabeleland Livestock Investment Initiative chairperson Donald Khumalo said farmers in the region would convene in Bulawayo on November 29 to come up with measures to rev up livestock production.

“Livestock is the only competitive economic advantage the region has and we have to meet and conjecture a strategy which will save especially cattle production,” Khumalo said.

“We need an estimated $300 million to revive livestock production and we would be convening a livestock indaba next week to come up with initiative to save this sector,” he added.

Livestock production in Matabeleland is on a decline largely due to persistent drought as climatic changes continue to affect the region.

The cattle head  which is the economic mainstay of the  region,   continues  to drop  due to shortage of grazing  land and stockfeed  as  farmers continue to struggle to finance their  operations due to the liquidity crunch persistent in the country.

Khumalo said the cattle head in the Matabeleland region dropped to an estimated one million this year from a peak head count of 2,5 million recorded in the 1990s.

He said the cattle head drops every year largely due to the perennial drought conditions in the region as climate conditions change.

“We need to start coming with initiatives as farmers to irrigate grazing pastures,” Khumalo said.

“We cannot continue waiting for government to finance the projects as this will take long.”

The   government is struggling to finance capital projects as 70% of the revenue is swallowed by the civil servant salaries.

Recently the two Agriculture deputy ministers Paddy Zhanda and David Murapira told farmers in Bulawayo that government would be suspending free inputs schemes next year due to financial constraints.

Cattle production in Matabeleland also scaled down partly due to the decline of Cold Storage Company (CSC) which currently on its knees due to financial constraints.

 CSC which is used to loan cattle to farmers, is battling with a debt of $22 million and workers’ salary arrears of $2, 1 million and is one of the State enterprises earmarked for privatisation.

The bleeding parastatal, in the first half of the year, recorded a $3 million loss and requires $58 million to fully recapitalise.
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