Precious Manomamo Herald Reporter
AT least 49 cattle died last week from the effects of poor pastures and rainfall induced by the El Niño in Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South bringing the number of cattle that have succumbed to the effects of El Niño in the past year to 9 875.
The rains now falling across the country have been slashing the death rate, with some pastures now growing and clean water is now readily available for livestock.
In a weekly report, the Agricultural and Rural Development Advisory Services (ARDAS) indicated that in the affected four provinces a total of 1 488 523 cattle were identified as high-risk animals prone to drought and poverty deaths out of a total of 2 882 710 animals.
But the report also noted that some parts of Binga district in Matabeleland North and Bulilima district in Matabeleland South were still facing drinking water and grazing challenges.
In a recent interview, Matabeleland South acting provincial agricultural director rural development services, Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said livestock was in fair condition and cattle in resettlement areas, where pastures were fair, were still in a good state.
“We have started witnessing fewer cattle poverty deaths under Bulilima district, where a few months ago some farmers lost livestock due to acute water shortages. The water supply is gradually improving and in terms of goats, they are in a good state across Matabeleland South,” added Mr Ndlovu
Livestock was also improving as drinking water and grazing was now available in most parts of the country.
Farmers were encouraged to implement management practices such as providing ample shade and access to cool water, and adjusting feeding schedules to minimise the impact of heat on cattle health and welfare.
Farmers were also encouraged to establish dedicated fodder plots and provide cattle with adequate water.
The plots were meant to ensure there was adequate feed and forage in the absence of sufficient rains.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Professor Obert Jiri said although farmers did not receive rainfall on time the situation was now sounding good.
He recently indicated that the ministry was also promoting the production of small stock as part of the measures to adapt to climate change, and its effects and vulnerabilities.
“The season is now progressing well and our crops and livestock are showing positive results. We are also promoting the production of goats and sheep so that at least we stand a chance and mitigate the vagaries of climate change.
“The small stock is climate smart. Under this we have the Presidential Goat Scheme and poultry programme. We are targeting 6 million head this year and by 2025 our target is 8 million. We have particular programmes of trying to climate proof our livestock through the adoption and promotion of small stock,” he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president Dr Shadreck Makombe recently indicated that the situation of livestock had improved very well adding that there was hope in the face of the El Nino.
“The situation on the ground is amazing for both crops and livestock. Clean water and pastures are now readily available in most provinces,” he said.
Government was concerned with the level of performance of the livestock sector and it promulgated a blueprint to address all areas that were limiting growth.