Mat South livestock in good condition

22 Oct, 2021 - 00:10 0 Views
Mat South livestock in good condition

The Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Chronicle Reporter
AFTER years of drought which saw them lose their livestock, farmers in Matabeleland South Province can afford to smile as their animals are in good condition.

The country received good rains during the 2020/2021 season and as a result, most areas still have pastures and water for livestock.

In the same period last year, Matabeleland South province lost more than head of 13 000 cattle while this year authorities said no poverty deaths have been recorded so far.

For the whole of 2020,  25 000 poverty deaths were recorded in the same province with most affected areas being Gwanda, Beitbridge and parts of Matobo. 12 000 poverty deaths were recorded in 2019.

Some farmers had to sell their livestock in order to buy stockfeed.

Mr Thabani Sibanda, an A2 farmer from Mkashi area in Gwanda with a herd of 200 cattle, said he has not sold any of his beasts to buy stockfeed.

“This year the situation is much better when it comes to availability of pastures and water. I have 200 cattle and their condition is good to fair. Last year around this time my cattle were in poor condition and I sold part of my herd in order to buy stockfeed. This time around I don’t think I will have to sell any of my cattle because pastures are still available. By the time we start receiving rains we will still be having pastures,” he said.

Mr Sibanda said selling livestock during a drought was a huge loss to farmers.

“We sell an average beast for about R9 000 but last year during the drought I was selling a beast for as little as R3 000. When the situation is better, I can sell one beast and buy about 40 bags of stock feed but during the drought after selling a beast I could only buy 17 bags of stock feed,” he said.

Mr Gift Moyo a communal farmer from Garanyemba, Gwanda said the condition of his animals was fair. He said they still have pastures for livestock although their animals had to travel a long distance to reach the nearest water source.

Mr Moyo said it was difficult for them  to sell their animals to buy stockfeed as they had small herds.

He has 10 head of cattle.

Mr George Nkala a communal farmer from Umzingwane area said while their animals still had pastures, they were in need of water. He said the nearest dam was silted and could not hold much water and as a result livestock had to travel a long distance to get water.

He said there was need for the dam to be desilted or more boreholes could be drilled.

Matabeleland South provincial livestock specialist, Mr Hatitye Zondai said while most areas still had pastures there was need for farmers to supplement their animals in order to improve their condition.

“We normally start recording poverty deaths in August and the peak point is October going up to early December.

This year we haven’t recorded any livestock poverty deaths and if any will be reported they will be few. Last year we received good rains which helped improve pastures. The forecast for this coming rainy season indicates that we will receive good rains which means the condition of livestock will improve,” he said.

Mr Zondai said the provincial herd was at around 6 million and was likely to grow because of availability of pastures, with most cattle in the communal areas.

He said in communal areas the livestock conditions had dropped from good to fair and in some areas of Gwanda South and Beitbridge South the condition of livestock was poor, especially in communal areas.

Mr Zondai said in A1 and A2 farms the condition of livestock was fair to good.

“Low demand of beef and high costs of stock feed made it difficult for farmers to supplement their animals which resulted in the death of a lot of animals,” he said.

Mr Zondai said they were conducting a hay bailing process in order to supply livestock farmers with feed for their animals at an affordable cost.

He said farmers who are into irrigation farming have been urged to put some land under fodder crops to supplement small stock like goats and lactating animals.

“While pastures are there the farmers shouldn’t relax. We want farmers to think in terms of resilience. Those with bigger arable lands should have a certain area where they can plant fodder.

“They should be reliable and self-sustaining. This is all in a bid to ensure that farmers save their animals in every possible way,” he said. – @DubeMatutu.

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