Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
ARTIFICIAL insemination is the cheapest method Zimbabwe can adopt to improve the national herd as buying bulls can be expensive for farmers who are not able to buy the best breeds, an official has said.
Artificial insemination in cattle is a technique by which semen from a bull is artificially introduced into a cow’s reproductive tract for the purpose of conception.
Official data from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development indicate that Zimbabwe’s national herd in 2021 stood at 5,5 million.
Following the launch of the Livestock Growth Plan in 2020, the Government targets a national herd of six million by 2025.
Speaking to the Business Chronicle, agronomist Mr Emmanuel Marume, who is also the co-founder of Farmbuzz Agriculture Solutions, said he started artificial insemination in 2009 and the project has managed to inseminate more than 800 cows.
“Artificial insemination is a better way to improve our national herd as this has proved to be cheaper than buying bulls for cross breeding.
“The process just needs live semen from a selected breed to be inserted in a cow and after a month the cow will be pregnant,” said Mr Marume.
“Artificial insemination is cheap and if farmers grab this technology, this can improve the type of breed the country has.”
Mr Marume said to get proper results from artificial insemination, there is need for properly trained personnel and proper cleaning of instruments used during the process.
He said artificial insemination can be done in any part of the country as long as farmers have the required skill and equipment.
In a separate interview, a livestock farmer in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North Mr Honest Dlamini echoed similar sentiments saying artificial breeding was better than natural breeding.
“Buying your own pure breed bull can cost not less than US$2 000 and a bull has its life span whereby it can die and you need to buy another, so artificial insemination is the way to go for those who cannot afford.
“Also, a bull can transmit diseases from one cow to another which is also a disadvantage of doing natural breeding, hence artificial insemination becomes the best,” he said
Mr Dlamini said natural breeding cannot be 100 percent effective even if a farmer puts one bull in 25 cows.
With natural insemination, the probability can be 50 percent to 60 percent unlike artificial insemination which has highest chances of yielding 100 percent results.
One of the beneficiaries of artificial insemination, Mr Nigel Mapaundi said the process was easy as he gained 20 cattle in nine months.
“Artificial insemination is cheap and effective because I benefited from it, instead of buying a bull to inseminate 20 cows, I just paid US$77 for each cow to be inseminated, and after nine months my cattle doubled,” he said.
The livestock sector in Zimbabwe contributes significantly to the growth and development of the national economy.
However, the sector faces several challenges, thereby limiting its contribution to the national economy and adversely affecting the livelihoods and food security of farmers.
Farmers in Zimbabwe are trying to improve their breeds to get quality meat and milk as well as getting good breeds to attract customers from within and outside the country. — @SikhulekelaniM1