The livestock condition is yet to improve in Matabeleland following the rains that pounded the region, last week.
Cattle farmers who spoke to CITE said while they were happy that it had finally rained, there was nothing to celebrate yet as livestock continue to succumb to drought.
Earnest Ndlovu, Matabeleland Agricultural Business Chamber past president, said the situation was still dire in Matabeleland South.
“While it depends on places, in some places there is no improvement; the situation is actually worsening with cattle continuing to die,” said Ndlovu.
“You would appreciate that the grass has not germinated while the little that existed is rotting now as a result of the rains and the livestock have become even weaker,” said Ndlovu.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union executive member, Irene Maphenduka, said many cattle were still in poor condition in Matabeleland North.
“For the majority of farmers, cattle are still yet to recover from the drought,” said Maphenduka.
“It is only those farmers who have been doing supplementary feeding who have better-looking cattle.”
Presenting his 2020 budget last Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube, allocated over ZW$500 million towards animal welfare and disease control.
The budget is however silent on restocking despite farmers having lost thousands of cattle to the drought.
“Over and above the challenges related to drought conditions, animal diseases are a major threat to productivity and competitiveness in the livestock sector,” said Ncube.
He said it was regrettable that over 100 000 cattle deaths had been recorded between 2018 and 2019 in various parts of the country.
“The 2020 Budget, therefore, proposes resources amounting to ZW$521.9 million, be availed towards the control of animal and zoonotic diseases, as well as animal welfare with the view to minimise the risk of diseases within farming regions,” he further said.
“The thrust is to ensure that there is no recurrence of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the non-traditional areas of Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces and carry out regular vaccinations in the traditional red zones.
The Finance Minister added the budget would also provide for the construction and rehabilitation of dip tanks, as well as completing the erection of the remaining 167km fence at Gonarezhou National Park to stop buffalo-cattle contact for the control of FMD.
Matabeleland farmers, are however of the view that the government should instead prioritise restocking.
“The government should prioritise restocking while also making sure that loans advanced to farmers reach the poor farmers, otherwise the land reform exercise will lose its meaning,” said Ndlovu.
Just recently, farmers in Matabeleland appealed to the government for livestock drought relief programme to counter the annual loss of cattle to drought.