Walter Mswazie Masvingo Correspondent
ABOUT five head of cattle are dying weekly in Bikita in Masvingo province due to drought.
Farmers told The Chronicle the worst affected areas are under Chiefs Mukanganwi, Mupawose and Mazungunye.
They said cattle and donkeys in the district are in dire situation as the district has not received rain since the onset of the rainy season this year.
A farmer from Mupamaonde area, Joseph Chikukwa, said most farmers could lose their herds of cattle if rains do not fall this week.
He said carcasses of dead cattle have become a common feature in the bush as they die in large numbers due to shortage of pastures and water sources which have also dried up. “We lose at least five cattle every week. The water sources have dried up and there are no pastures.” said Chikukwa.
Chief Mukanganwi said rain has not fallen for a long time in Bikita.
He said most villagers had not started tilling the land.
“We’re in a bad situation here in Bikita and if it continues being dry like this, most people in my area will lose all their livestock, save for goats and sheep which are resistant. Our cattle have no pastures,” said Chief Mukanganwi.
Headman Mpakwa called on the government to re-introduce cattle feeding programmes in the district.
He said cattle are the most prized assets for rural people as they also provide draught power for tilling the land.
“We’ve areas like Mupamaonde, Mazungunye including mine which haven’t received a single drop. This is where cattle are on the receiving end. Since the beginning of November to date, we’ve lost almost one quarter of our total herd,” he said.
A rapid drought assessment team led by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development recently established that more than 1,000 head of cattle in Chiredzi have died of drought this year while Matabeleland South is the most susceptible.
The survey was carried in Manicaland, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland North and South and its findings indicated that grazing was poor in 26 districts of the country.
Masvingo province has the highest number of cattle, standing at approximately two million of the national herd of about five million animals.