Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
THE Government will soon distribute livestock and various animal related production materials under its Special Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme in Matabeleland South Province, an official has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Matabeleland South Investment Conference in Gwanda on Wednesday last week, Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) board chairperson Mr Basil Nyabadza said the Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Chief Marshall Perence Shiri was expected to kick start the pilot livestock project in the province soon.
The $300 million facility for the Special Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme commonly referred to as Command Livestock was launched by Vice-President Retired General Dr Constantino Chiwenga in Gwatemba area in Insiza District, Matabeleland South last month.
“Arda is a participant (in Command Livestock) and very soon there will actually be distribution of some of the livestock material by my Honourable Minister (Rtd Air Chief Marshal Shiri). We are working on that one. It’s going to be very soon (distribution of livestock and materials). I don’t know his time so I can’t say (when) but definitely it has been discussed. It’s going to take place in Matabeleland South, there is no question about that,” said Mr Nyabadza said.
The Command Livestock Programme would go a long way in improving livelihoods of most communal farmers especially in Matabeleland region.
Matabeleland is in ecological region four and five, which is dry and ideal for livestock farming compared to crop farming.
Mr Nyabadza said the programme would see the distribution of heifers as well as an artificial insemination project. The Government, Zimbabwe Agricultural Society and Zimplats are targeting inseminating 6 000 semen straws into a livestock population of 3 600 anticipated to produce 1 800 bulls and
1 800 heifers with the second phase increasing the total semen straws to 16 000.
“Farmers will receive some heifers and some will access them through loans whereby they can buy. There will be pure grade material,” he said.