The number of cattle succumbing to drought declined from 66 000 in 2019 to 10 000 in 2020 due to Government and farmers’ efforts to improve pasture production and provision of subsidised commercial feeds.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement’s First Round Crop and Livestock Assessment report shows that 10 183 cattle succumbed to drought in 2020 compared to 66 088 cattle in 2019.
The report attributed the decline to Government and farmers’ projects which were being spearheaded in 17 districts.
“Farmers adhering to drought mitigation strategies and destocking their cattle so as to purchase survival rations for their breeding stock were more resilient to the effects of drought,” read the report.
Government and the private sector have been supporting livestock value chains to reduce poverty deaths and contribute towards the development of a diversified agricultural sector that promotes inclusive green economic growth.
The Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (BEST) project running under the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP) was one of the projects implemented in Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Matabeleland North.
Government distributed inputs under the Presidential Livestock Scheme meant for creation of forage banks for improved animal nutrition in the southern drier regions of the country.
Priority was given to the hardest hit southern drier areas with the highest cattle drought-related deaths.
At least 500 000 households with cattle were expected to receive legume pasture seed packs and fertilisers.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing drought-related cattle deaths over the years and the hardest hit areas are Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Midlands, and some parts of Manicaland provinces.
According to the Crop and Livestock assessment report, the national beef cattle herd increased by 0,64 percent from 5 443 770 in 2019 to 5 598 982 in 2020.
“National goat population increased by 2,7 percent from 3 868 402 in 2019 to 3 974 707 in 2020, while the national sheep population increased by 27 percent from 547 696 in 2019 to 697 910 in 2020,” read the report.
The reports states that the cattle herd mortality went down from 12 percent in 2019 to 4,2 percent in 2020.
Goat and sheep mortality were reported to be 23 percent and 17 percent respectively.
Diseases were the major causes of livestock mortalities.
Calf, kid and lamb deaths are the biggest contributors to overall mortality.
The livestock condition remains generally good to fair across the country due to the good and well-distributed rains received across all provinces that resulted in improved grazing condition.
But the livestock in some communal areas is still in poor condition despite the good season, as a result of poor deworming and overgrazing.
Grazing condition is currently fair to good in all districts across the country.
Improved livestock production and productivity is expected in the current season due to improved grazing quality and availability.