More than 250 000 head of cattle confronted with depleted pastures in Chiredzi have received a timely boost after the district received 250mm of rainfall during the past two weeks.
In an interview with The Herald last week, Chiredzi District Civil Protection Committee chairman Mr Lovemore Chisema said the rains had come as a relief to farmers.
“Most parts of the district had not received any significant amount of rainfall that would have stimulated the growth of crops and pastures,” he said. “We had started receiving reports of cattle succumbing to drought, but the situation is now improving with the rains that we are receiving.”
Mr Chisema said it was noble for communities to start introducing the paddock system to preserve the existing pastures.
“Now that pastures are rejuvenating due to the rains being received, it is noble for communities to set up paddocks,” he said. “We believe this would preserve this much needed resource while mitigating grazing shortfalls which have become a seasonal phenomenon.”
Mr Chisema said farmers should not stop destocking.
“Despite the ongoing development of pastures, we continue to urge farmers to continue destocking,” he said. “Old animals must be slaughtered, young beasts must be fattened and sold at higher prices to raise money to maintain the rest of the herd.”
Chiredzi South Member of Parliament Cde Kalisto Gwanetsa said farmers in his constituency were reluctant to sell or slaughter some of their cattle because they believed that the size of their herd determined the extent of their wealth.
“We are continuing to educate the villagers about conservative agriculture,” he said. “The belief that owning a hundred starving cattle is a sign that one is wealthy must be corrected forthwith.
“Farmers must sell old cattle, get stock feed and look after the smaller ones. Preservation of grazing is now a key fundamental in modern day farming, as climate change is taking its toll.”
The development comes after Chiredzi once lost over 50 000 cattle due to drought, resulting in Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe stepping in to purchase starving cattle from the communities.
Source : The Herald