CATTLE farmers in Nyamandlovu have appealed to the government for more land for cattle ranching to help boost livestock production in the country which is currently in limbo due to severe drought.
Livestock production in Zimbabwe dropped dismally since 2000 following President Robert Mugabe’s land reform programme.
The drought-prone Matabeleland region favours cattle ranching and in the 1980s and 1990s was referred to as the Brazil of Zimbabwe.
Farmers who spoke to Southern Eye Business on Tuesday said they were keen to boost the national herd by 50% provided the government supported them through resources especially land.
Jairos Mahlangu of Plot 11 Compensation Farm, Umguza district who has a head of 230 cattle, said with extra land and government support, he expects to double the number by year end.
“We have no adequate land to cater for the whole herd in one place and we end up grazing our herds in different places which is costly,” Mahlangu said.
“We have got 100 hectares which is not enough for cattle ranching which needs at least 1 000 to 1 500 hectares of land. We also need finance to do feedlots so that we can produce quality meat for exporting, therefore we appeal from the government to give us loans.”
Mahlangu urged youths to take up livestock production as it was presenting a lot of opportunities in such economic hardships. He said last week they had a field day at his plot aiming at inculcating the desire to do cattle ranching.
Another farmer said they wanted to revive cattle ranching since industry production was currently low.
The farmers said they were happy with prevailing market prices, saying there were good for production. Feeder steers and heifers are selling at $2 and $3 per kg respectively.
A bull in the market costs between $1 500 and $2 000 whereas heifers and steers cost between $800 and $600 respectively. In 2012, a devastating drought saw a total of 9 272 cattle dying in the province and the most affected areas were Mangwe district with 5 476 deaths followed by Matobo with 1 232 deaths and Beitbridge with 1 015 deaths. The least affected was Umzingwane with only 23 cattle reported dead.
There were no significant livestock exhibits during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in April due to drought which hit the region in 2012 and 2013.