Bulilima farmers urged to destock

Farmers in Bulilima, Matabeleland South, have been urged to de-stock and keep a minimum number of livestock as a drought mitigation measure.

Climate change has drastically affected rainfall patterns across the globe and resulted in weather extremes, constant droughts and flooding.

The statistics from the Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (AGRITEX) in Matabeleland South indicate that over 15 590 cattle succumbed to drought in the past few months.

Speaking to CITE on the side-lines of a one-week training of villagers in bee keeping techniques by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry in  conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), an AGRITEX officer in Ward 22, Avilla Zingoni, said during the 2019-2020 season the ward lost over 500 cattle due to drought and other factors.

“This 2019-2020 season a number of cattle were lost in the ward, due to severe drought,” said Zingoni.

“As an agricultural extension worker I was reporting livestock poverty deaths weekly to the district as I was receiving numbers from Disaster Risk Reduction Committees (DRRZ) within wards. Cattle, donkeys, goats and chickens were all dying.”

“In ward 22, farmers reported that they lost 111 cattle due to poisonous plants while 458 cattle were lost due to poverty deaths, 170 donkeys and 251 goats,” she said.

Zingoni revealed that some farmers were assisted by Amalima to curb the high deaths of livestock.

 “During the poverty death period we were working with an organisation called Amalima which was helping farmers with stock feed; they had subsidised prices where they were helping farmers with paying half of the stock feed as a means to assist farmers,” she said.

“Their package of stock feed consisted of dipping chemicals and dossing chemicals to help livestock survive.”

She added they were still concerned with the poor grazing areas in the ward with fears that more livestock could be lost.

“Our livestock has not fully recovered as we received rains around February this year. Most of the pastures have not recovered and this might cause shortage of grazing lands for livestock. Farmers have however opted to protect their fields by trying to conserve the grass that is there so that when grazing pastures run out they can open their fields for livestock to graze,” she said.

“We are also urging farmers to buy supplementary feed for their livestock not to entirely depend on grazing areas.”

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