via Mat South cattle under threat from drought, foot-and-mouth – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 17, 2015
MORE than 300 000 cattle in Matabeleland South province are at risk of being wiped out by drought and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that has hit the region hard this year, farmers have said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
The province, according to Matabeleland South chief livestock specialist Simangaliphi Ngwabi, has a total herd of 636 441.
Presenting her report on the livestock drought situation in a drought relief sub-committee meeting in Gwanda town recently, Ngwabi said out of 636 441 cattle in the province, 364 622 were at risk and the situation was critical in areas such as Beitbridge, Gwanda, Bulilima and Mangwe districts.
Farmers who spoke to NewsDay during the Matabeleland South Agricultural Show said the future looked bleak at the moment due to drought and FMD that has hit the region hard this year.
“Drought is very intense in this province and our livestock at great risk. Drought mitigation strategies are required to save the livestock,” said Solomon Linda, a small livestock farmer.
“We are also being affected by foot-and-mouth disease and if nothing tangible to arrest it is done, then we are heading for a disaster,” he added.
Linda said due to drought and FMD the price of their livestock had been affected. He said they were anticipating that by October, if nothing was done to bolster farmers, the prices would further drop by more than half.
Currently, according to farmers, a goat or sheep goes for $45 while a cow rakes in between $300 and $500 depending on weight.
“If everything goes like this, by October we would be selling our cattle for $50 or $100. We need water and the government should supply farmers with stock feed,” Linda said.
He urged farmers to form associations so that they could work together to source stock feed for their livestock.
Another livestock farmer, Tariro Maphosa, said the issue of diseases was posing a threat to farmers in the region. He said when their livestock are affected by diseases you can’t stand your ground as a farmer.
He, however, blamed farmers for spreading the disease in the province by failing to adhere to the regulations set by veterinary services.
He said in times such as this, farmers needed to complement each other and they should not view themselves as rivals.
“We need to be a family now because we need each other. What affects farmer A affects farmer B also. Individualism won’t take us anywhere,” he said.
At this year’s show, the number of cattle that were brought for exhibition was very small.
Matabeleland South Agricultural Show spokesperson Mvelo Zondo attributed this to drought and the outbreak of FMD in the province.
“The reason why there are few cattle for exhibition this year is because of FMD which affected the entire region, especially areas like Umzingwane, Insiza and Beitbridge,” Zondo said.
Zondo also attributed the limited number of cattle in the exhibition to transport challenges. He said the only livestock that was affected was cattle.
“The small stock which is goat, sheep and pigs were not affected and farmers have brought them for exhibition,” he said.
The 58th edition of the Matabeleland South Agricultural Show which kicked off last Thursday in Gwanda was bigger and better compared to last year, according to Mvelo.
The annual exhibition, which ended on Saturday, was running under the theme Innovations that Promote Value Addition and Beneficiation.