AGRICULTURE, Mechanisaiton and Irrigation minister Joseph Made has advised livestock farmers to immediately start destocking to avoid heavy losses because of lack of pastures due to drought.
Made said drought had set in early and farmers should not mislead themselves into thinking they would be able to feed their livestock during the hunger period.
“So, I want to deal with the question of destocking first that those animals that we see are not in a reasonable condition,” Made told Senators on Thursday.
“We should not try to mislead ourselves and say we will feed those animals.
“This is our strongest advice that animals that are not in good condition in terms of the coming two or three months, let us try to destock and we remain with animals that we will be able to look after by putting them in the feedlots.”
Made was responding to a question by Matabeleland South Senator Angeline Masuku on government readiness in sending tractors to “cut grass in order to prepare stockfeed” to save livestock from death due to lack of pastures.
Matabeleland South has over the years lost thousands of cattle due to drought caused by poor rains.
“This is my advice at the moment because we can see that where we are going, it is going to be a long time in terms of the availability of even the pasture itself, as well as the bailing capacity and the water resources,” he said.
“We are working on a detailed programme on the issue of bailing; it is not going to be the Ministry of Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development alone, but it includes Water and Environment and other institutions, plus the farmers themselves as well.
“But we are going to assist and we are mobilising the resources, including even the funding that we are going to get from the European Union.”
The country is this year expected to suffer another drought due to a poor rainfall season.
Already, the Meteorological Department has warned that the rainy season is over, while farmers have reported that some of their crops have been a write-off.
Last September, a government report claimed the country was expecting to record a surplus in harvests, but that was before the rainy season even commenced.