Farmers seek permission to sell cattle in foreign currency

Cattle farmers in Matabeleland who want to destock to minimise future animal losses to drought are seeking government permission to sell their livestock in foreign currency citing volatility of the local currency.

Zimbabwe on June 24 last year outlawed the use of foreign currency while some sectors such as tourism and mining remain exempted.

Farmers in the region lost thousands of cattle to a devastating drought in the runner-up to and during the first half of the 2019/2020 farming season – between October and December last year.

While the condition of cattle across the region has significantly improved, farmers are now seized with strategies of preserving the remaining animals and minimising future losses.

Some farmers have since begun harvesting hay to be fed to cattle when the drought strikes again.

Chances of losing more cattle this year are high as the country is yet to receive significant rains across the country since the rainy season started in October 2019.

One of the ways of alleviating the impact of drought on animals is destocking, which is however shunned by many farmers and in some cases of late because of poor prices offered by livestock buyers.

Farmers who spoke to CITE this week said they were now appealing to government to be allowed to sell their animals in hard currency to ensure the preservation of their value.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) executive member, Irene Maphenduka, who said farmers were at the mercy of buyers who dictate prices to them, appealed to the authorities to allow them to sell their livestock in foreign currency.

“It is high time we are allowed to sell our cattle in foreign currency as we destock so that we can be able to restock,” she said.

“The reality is that almost everything is sold in foreign currency in this country although it is not allowed. Take, for example, we buy chemicals for disease control in foreign currency, yet we are expected to sell in Zimbabwe dollars.”

Another farmer, Jonathan Nsingo said some farmers were holding on to their cattle citing the fast depreciating Zimbabwe Dollar.

“This business of selling cattle in bond notes does not work at all, let us be frank with one another,” said Nsingo.

“Farmers want to sell in Rand, Pula and the US Dollar because if you are to sell in local currency, two weeks down the line you would have just lost the value of your sales.”

Meanwhile, in Matabeleland South most farmers are defying government as they sell their livestock in forex.

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