Matabeleland South farmers clear invasive alien species from grazing lands Opuntia fulgida in Guyu, Gwanda District

Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
More than 1 500 hectares of invasive alien species which threaten grazing lands in Matabeleland South Province have so far been cleared through farmers’ collaboration.

Invasive alien species are exotic plants, which have become naturalised and threaten the existence of indigenous species by penetrating and replacing indigenous vegetation.

In Matabeleland South region, the major invasive species are opuntia fulgida and lantana camara.

The prevalence of opuntia fulgida is mainly in Beitbridge district where it has invaded all the 18 wards.

It is also significantly present in Gwanda South.

Opuntia fulgida is also found in Insiza, Bulilima, Mangwe and Matobo districts spreading across more than 2 000 hectares in the province.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Matabeleland South provincial manager Mr Decent Ndlovu said lantana camara is threatening fodder and forage for livestock in Matobo and Umzingwane districts.

“The invasive species are threatening more that 500 hectares in these two districts.

The agency has worked with farmers and property owners through eradication projects, awareness campaigns and prosecution to rid the province of these two debilitating plant species.

More than 1 500 hectares of invasive species especially opuntia fulgida (70 percent) has been cleared through farmer-partner collaborations.

Organisations such as the Rotary Club in Bulawayo have donated equipment to farmers in Umzingwane district to clear lantana camara while EMA has spearheaded four projects on opuntia fulgida clearing in Gwanda District,” said Mr Ndlovu.

He said the agency has also worked with various non-governmental organisations and Government departments in the eradication of invasive alien species across the province with projects such as nutrition gardens being born from such collaborations.

“On importation of plant or animal species, farmers must lodge an application with the Ministry of Agriculture so as to ascertain the nature of that species in relation to it finding its way into the wild.

The persons responsible for any properties are expected to clear or cause to be cleared any invasive alien species growing in their land.

This includes farmers, traditional leaders, local authorities or law enforcement agents,” said Mr Ndlovu.

In terms of communal areas, Mr Ndlovu said farmers through assistance from their local leaders can apply for grants from EMA and local authorities to support eradication programmes.

“Farmers must also cut and bury the weeds in situ.

For example, opuntia fulgida is cut and buried in situ to prevent its spread.

Farmers are also advised to prevent streambank cultivation which results in fertilisers being washed into water bodies resulting in hyacinth bloom.

It is also the duty of responsible persons to report to their local authorities, FC or EMA the existence of invasive alien species in their areas,” said Mr Ndlovu.


He said communities are advised to contact their local authorities, forestry officers, Agritex, EMA officers and ZimParks officers for information on the methods of clearing invasive alien species.

“Farmers are urged not to move any aquatic plants or animals (including fish) from one water body to another without written authorisation from the relevant authorities,” said Mr Ndlovu.

– @Yolisswa.

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