THE prolonged drought is threatening to wipe out Chiredzi’s herd as over 200 cattle are dying every week due to lack of pasture, according to a report by the district administrator.
BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA/NQOBANI NDLOVU
Most parts of the district have not received rainfall since the beginning of the rainy season, with Chiredzi South the most affected. Chikombedzi, Majijimba and Malisanga have so far recorded the highest number of livestock deaths as at January 29, 2019, according to a Chiredzi weekly cattle poverty deaths report.
Chief Tshovani, whose area of jurisdiction is the most affected, said the situation was worse than being reported. He said community members faced starvation since most of them had exhausted their food reserves.
“I can confirm that the situation is very bad and cattle are dying on a daily basis. The figures recorded might even be smaller because there is completely no grass and the situation is likely to affect people because some of them have already exhausted their food reserves.
“We were used to having good rains in the past so most people sold what they had, expecting a good harvest this farming season,” Chief Tshovani said.
Chiredzi South legislator Callisto Gwanetsa (Zanu PF) is already urging villagers with large herds of cattle to destock and buy supplementary feed.
“We have not received even a single drop of rain this season, so cattle are dying in large numbers. So I am urging those with large herds to sell some of the cattle and buy supplementary feed for a manageable size. There is no need to keep a lot of cattle that will eventually die from drought.
“This drought is already affecting people and I hope they are going to receive food handouts from the Department of Social Welfare as soon as possible,” Gwanetsa said.
Early this week, Beitbridge legislator Albert Nguluvhe revealed that the district risked losing a significant number of cattle out of the estimated 95 000 herd due to drought.
According to Nguluvhe, livestock feed costs $600 a tonne, which is out of reach of many farmers.
Lands minister Perrance Shiri could not be reached for comment.
However, Public Service minister Sekai Nzenza said her ministry was distributing grain on a weekly basis.
“We are distributing grain to all provinces on a weekly basis, but we are facing transport challenges. We already have specific programmes targeting Chiredzi,” she said.