COMMENT:Let’s emulate Mat South farmers’ initiatives meant to empower livestock farmers
MATABELELAND and some parts of the Midlands province are expected to receive normal to below normal rainfall this coming rain season hence the need to take measures to mitigate the effects of drought.
It is therefore pleasing to note that livestock farmers in Matabeleland South have adopted a raft of drought mitigation measures which include producing supplementary feeding for their cattle.
Government is working on a programme to build the national herd and its target is to grow the herd from 5,5 million to six million by 2025.
Matabeleland region is a livestock farming area given the low rainfall received in most parts of the region. In their quest to reduce cattle deaths due to drought, farmers from Matabeleland South on Monday joined other livestock farmers from across the country at a field day held at Biano Farm in Esigodini to exchange ideas on how to mitigate the effects of drought on livestock farming.
The host farmer, Mr Obert Chinhamo is one of the successful livestock farmers in the country and has over the years held field days at his farm meant to educate farmers on how to improve livestock farming.
This is as it should be and we want to encourage other farmers to emulate such initiatives meant to empower livestock farmers with knowledge and skills to improve livestock farming.
Mr Chinhamo is among the farmers who have taken heed of the Government’s call for farmers to fully utilise land and shame doomsayers who have been criticising the country’s land reform programme.
He has 300 Simmentals at his 80-hectare farm. The Simmental breed of cattle is rare in the country and Mr Chinhamo is the only farmer in the southern region breeding Simmentals.
The breed which originates from Europe, has very high returns as the average weight of a beast is about 500 kilogrammes compared to the average weight of other breeds which is about 150kg.
Mr Chinhamo said farmers do not need large tracts of land to be productive and he has proved this by keeping 300 beasts on his small farm.
During the field day, farmers were taken through various stages of silage production.
Mr Chinhamo urged farmers to produce their own silage instead of buying stockfeed which is very expensive.
Mr Chinhamo grows maize which he uses to make silage for his cattle’s supplementary feeding during drought periods.
He said in order to improve the quality of their cattle, farmers should cross-breed.
We want at this juncture to implore all farmers allocated land under the land reform programme to fully utilise the land like what Mr Chinhamo is doing.
Mr Chinhamo has proved that Simmentals, which have high returns, do well in Matabeleland so more farmers in Matabeleland should breed Simmentals and enjoy huge profits.
Land is a finite resource and as such farmers across the country have an obligation to produce, not just enough for national consumption, but also surplus for export so that the country earns the much-needed foreign currency.