Farmers should use failed crops as fodder Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
LIVESTOCK farmers have been urged to harvest crops that failed due to poor rains and use them as fodder to cushion their heads from depletion of pastures while reducing the cost of buying stockfeed.

Despite projections of normal to above normal rainy season, crops in most parts of the country have been declared a write-off following prolonged dry-spells between February to date.

The southern region, which covers Matabeleland provinces, the Midlands and Masvingo, has been the most affected. In an interview Mr Honest Dlamini, a livestock farmer from Matabeleland North, said the dry spell has a negative effect on pastures as well and urged farmers to start harvesting fodder for their animals.

“We all see that crops have failed due to shortage of rainfall. So, to reduce cost and cater for what we have already lost, let’s start preparing fodder using those failed crops,” he said.

“Farmers should not wait for the crops to dry up but they should cut them while they are still green because when they dry up all nutrients go back to the soil and the remains will not be able to supplement cattle”.

Mr Dlamini said he has already started preparing his fodder and was looking forward to reduce money spent in buying stock feeds. He said farmers should be bold enough to plan for the future and use the failed crop for more value.

“We know that other crops failed at a mature stage and people should not hesitate to use that as fodder as it makes good feed for the livestock,” he said.

Although Matabeleland region is known as a cattle region, the recent perennial droughts have affected livestock numbers due to depletion of pastures.

Many families struggle to buy stock feed and usually rely on grazing. Organisations like the Zimbabwe Agricultural Growth Programme (ZAGP), have been working with farmers’ groups to enhance resilience through capacity building and knowledge sharing on alternative fodder options.

Matabeleland South provincial livestock officer, Mr Hatitye Muchemwa, said most crops failed at vegetative stage, which is of more value to livestock.

“Farmers can use their failed crops to prepare fodder and plants, which are still green, are good because that green provides good nutrients for the animals,” he said.

“I advise farmers not to do sun drying of their hay but they should use sheds so as to keep the fodder green.”
Mr Muchemwa said last year livestock farmers were given legume fodder inputs, which they should harvest and keep safe to cater for dry periods. — @SikhulekelaniM1

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