via Matabeleland ranchers get $9mln EU,FAO boost | The Source March 19, 2014
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on Tuesday gave a $9,1 million ( 7 million euro) grant to boost livestock production in Matabeleland North province, as Zimbabwe battles to rebuild its national herd decimated by upheavals in commercial agriculture following President Robert Mugabe’s land reforms.
Elmar Sikala, an official in FAO’s livestock department, said the European Union (EU) grant would help smallholder farmers in Nkayi and Lupane commercialise their operations.
“The project is targeting all livestock smallholder farmers in Nkayi and Lupane and is aimed at enhancing food, nutrition and income security among households in the two districts,” Sikala told The Source on the side-lines of a FAO-organised workshop on livestock production in Bulawayo.
“Under the programme, we will be training smallholder farmers on livestock production, rehabilitating dip tanks, holding pens and also installing refrigerators at animal health centres in the two districts.”
In December, FAO launched a programme to save livestock in Matabeleland South, where farmers were receiving 50kg bags of stock feed per month. The UN agency was also drilling boreholes to ensure water supplies in the cattle ranching province.
“Livestock are an important resource which is not being exploited fully. Livestock rearing has a clear comparative advantage not only as a means to improve livelihoods but in contributing to economic empowerment,” said Paddy Zhanda, the deputy minister for Agriculture.
“Within a smallholder farming sector in this region, we can model our economic empowerment, infrastructure development for livestock, providing lessons to be cascaded to other areas of similar ecological makeup.”