Rutendo Nyeve, Sunday News Correspondent
CATTLE farmers in Umguza District, Matabeleland North province last week received a major boost following the official opening of the Balu Cattle Business Centre (CBC) which is set to contribute to the development of a robust and competitive beef value chain that promotes enhanced trade, employment creation, food security, and inclusive green economic growth.
The Cattle Business Centre was established under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme-Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (ZAGP-BEST) Project, a partnership between the Government of Zimbabwe and the European Union.
The Cattle Business Centre was officially opened by Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Richard Moyo.
Minister Moyo heaped praise on the irrigated pasture model which is one of the models used in the multi-faceted facility.
He said farmers must also take advantage of the Pfumvundza/Intwasa programme to grow fodder crops to feed livestock.
“I am happy to say that this year the Government will extend the Pfumvudza programme to livestock with focus on the livestock input programme.
“Farmers will be accessing tick grease and fodder seed under the Government’s input programme.
“With support from the BEST project, private sector players, Government extension staff and the lead farmers, I am confident each farmer will be able to allocate at least one hectare (in the communal areas) and at least 10ha (in the self-contained farms) for fodder production for the dry season feeding of cattle. This should be expanded each year,” said Cde Moyo.
Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme-Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (ZAGP-BEST) Project Team leader, Mr Mark Benzon said CBC is meant for farmers to appreciate that if their animals are well fed they get better returns.
“Smallholder farmers have to get an appreciation that if their cattle are well fed they will give them better returns. The CBC is a hub of cattle business that will see input market being available on site up to the abattoir.
“I would like to encourage the farmers to come as well and get knowledge on cattle farming from how to breed to de-horning and all,” said Mr Benzon.
Local farmer and committee chairperson of the CBC, Mr Dennis Nyoni said the project has given them a heads up in as far as appreciating the value of their resource is concerned.
“As the Umguza farmers, we are happy to be part of this project as it enhances capacities to increase income for us.
“This project has made us appreciate the value of our cattle as an essential locally available resource.
“I am sure with the CBC we are able to reduce the effects of the droughts in the district as farmers will be able to access grazing facilities.
“As Umguza farmers we would have wished to have the grass being conserved as hay so that other farmers who may fail to graze their animals here enjoy the benefits,” said Mr Nyoni.
The Balu Cattle Business Centre for Umguza District is a hub of beef value chain services that seek to commercialise small to medium-scale beef production with services that include off-take market through direct-walk-in sales and public auction system, in-situ grazing, pasture seed and planting materials, pen fattening, training and extension services.