Govt developing a strategy to build national herd

THE government has said it is developing a strategy to build the country’s national cattle herd, which has remained stagnant at 5.4 million due to years of neglect.

Cattle farmers in Matabeleland, who continue to lose their livestock to droughts annually, have accused the government of prioritising crops over animals in the agricultural sector.

Presenting his 2020 mid-term fiscal policy review Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, said that was being corrected.

“Previous government efforts paid more attention to crop production with minimal support for livestock,” he acknowledged.

“As a result, the country’s cattle herd has remained stagnant at around 5.4 million cattle as at January 2020, also reflecting the impact of drought, forced destocking and diseases.”

He said the government would now seriously look into how the livestock sector is developed.

“Going forward, the Ministry of Agriculture will closely work with the Treasury with a view of improving livestock numbers in terms of quality, health and welfare and already a strategy which focuses on building the national herd and other small livestock is being developed,” he said.

“According to the 2020 First Round Crop and Livestock Assessment Report, dairy herd stands at 38 000, of which 12 000 are in milk production, producing an average of 14 litres per day per cow. However, milk production for the first quarter of 2020 declined by 6.6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019, where production stood at 20.6 million litres.”

Ncube added, given marketing challenges of milk brought by Covid-19 containment measures compounded by drought and shortage of foreign currency, milk production is expected to take a dip in 2020 for the first time in recent years to 92.3 million litres from 95.6 million litres.

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