THE government has appealed to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to assist livestock farmers in Matabeleland with stockfeed to avert cattle deaths caused by lack of pastures owing to the prevailing drought.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Agriculture deputy minister (Livestock) Paddy Zhanda recently admitted that thousands of cattle were at risk of succumbing to the drought, with parts of Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland South and North in urgent need of assistance.
Zhanda said his ministry had submitted a request to the FAO for a rerun of the 2012 and 2013 programme to assist cattle farmers.
“In 2012 and 2013, the government and in conjunction with FAO, came up with a programme to assist farmers in that area with the Survival Feed Programme which was heavily subsidised,” the deputy minister told Senators last Thursday.
“I also undertook with FAO a visit to those (affected) areas to ascertain the level of assistance that was required and we have submitted our requirements asking for assistance from FAO for a similar programme of the 2012 and 2013 of a Survival Feed Programme.”
Zhanda was responding to questions by Senator Chief Nyangazonke Ndiweni of Kezi and Senator Tambudzani Mohadi of Beitbridge on what his ministry was doing to assist livestock farmers to sustain their herds.
He said livestock farmers should be destocking while awaiting assistance, saying this was necessary to avoid losses.
He appealed to senators to encourage farmers to “learn to destock before the condition of their cattle goes bad”.
“In recent months, I have virtually been in Matabeleland engaging farmers telling them to be aware that whenever we are facing drought, there is need to mitigate against that by way of destocking so that they can remain with a minimum number of cattle and avoid unnecessary loss of cattle, but unfortunately, traditionally, within ourselves, the issue of selling cattle is something that we are not accustomed to,” Zhanda added.
“This trend of refusing to destock or the trend of wanting to use livestock as sign of wealth without utilising it is something really we should all tackle.
“People are not poor per se, but they tend to want to take livestock as of sentimental value instead of destocking,” he added.
He indicated that the ministry had engaged private abattoirs and the Cold Storage Company “to be reasonable enough in buying the livestock from affected farmers” as and when they destock.
Matabeleland South has over the years lost thousands of cattle due to drought, caused by poor rains.