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Improved pastures a boost to cattle farming

The improved pastures across Matabeleland following significant rains that have been received in the usually dry region of the country since the onset of the 2020/2021 agricultural season are a boost to cattle ranching.

Matabeleland, which is traditionally renowned for cattle breeding, lost thousands of cattle in the past two consecutive seasons owing to poor rains received which resulted in water sources diminishing and pastures drying.

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube set aside ZWL$5, 3 billion for livestock farming across the country this year.

Livestock farmers especially in Matabeleland have in the past accused the government of prioritising crop farmers ahead of them.

“The country has lost substantial livestock attributable to drought and floods which reduced pastures as well as the continued outbreak of pests and disease attacks including the fall army worm; tuta absoluta, foot and mouth disease, anthrax and theileriosis in cattle,” said Ncube while presenting the 2021 national budget last November.

“To support livestock production, the government will continue to assist farmers to restock the national herd through disease control and surveillance including game fencing and rehabilitation of dip tanks. Therefore, the 2021 national budget allocates ZWL$5.3 billion towards enhancing livestock production and productivity.”

He said that would be supported by private sector initiatives like the Zimplats Cattle Ranching Project and development partner support including the Zimbabwe Agriculture growth Programme (ZAGP) meant to develop beef, dairy, poultry and goats and piggery value chains.

Now with the rains continuing to pound, the story of Matabeleland in as far as livestock farming is concerned is set to change for the better.

Irene Maphenduka, a member of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) and Matabeleland North Women Livestock Association said farmers in the region were very pleased with the state of pastures.

“We are happy this year, God has indeed remembered us,” she told CITE over the phone.

“Pastures are just so good. It is grass all over. We are therefore encouraging fellow farmers to cut the hay and store it for livestock during the winter.”

She added that farmers should continuously restock in order to improve their herds which were almost depleted by previous droughts.

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