Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
AT least 50 000 head of cattle succumbed to diseases in the past 12 months, amid fears that more will die if the shortage of dipping chemicals persists, legislators have said.
In its report, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement said underfunding the department responsible for animal production and health has grave consequences for the economy.
The MPs report presented in Parliament during debate on National Budget on Tuesday, bemoaned underfunding in most departments under the Agriculture Ministry.
“The committee also notes that this underfunding is coming at a time when about 50 000 cattle died due to different animal diseases, including tick-borne diseases between December 2017 and November 2018. Because dip chemicals need to be imported, the firms that won the tender to supply dip chemicals have not been able to get the requisite allocation from the RBZ. Thus, the ministry’s bid had tried to factor this into account so that cattle could dip,” reads the report.
The committee said it was worried that cattle are not dipping at a time when Government also owes Botswana Vaccine Institute about $6 million.
“This means that unless Government increases allocation for this programme area, more cattle will be lost in 2019 due to livestock diseases.
“Although the Budget has allocated about $2,4 million towards the rehabilitation of at least 50 dip tanks in each province, the committee fears that cattle may still not dip due to lack of chemicals, as the reason for not dipping had nothing to do with the number or state of dip tanks, but dipping chemicals,” reads the report.
The committee said Treasury needs to adjust its resource allocation model to try as much as possible to match the allocated amount to the bid received.
It said there is need for critical programme areas such as animal production, health, extension and services; agricultural engineering and farm infrastructure advisory development; crop and livestock production extension and advisory services to be adequately funded. The committee also expressed concern over inadequate funding for irrigation schemes.
“The committee, therefore, recommends that resources for these programme areas be increased, with possibilities of taking from other programme areas which received well much more than what they had bid for,” the committee’s report said.
“The allocation per irrigation scheme is too low for quick progress. For example, 114 irrigation projects are earmarked for funding in 2019 from a total of $30, 8 million.”