|Cattle feedlots, fodder banks lifeline for farmers|
|Saturday, 28 July 2012 20:03|
CATTLE feedlots and fodder banks remain the lifeline for livestock farmers and that is the route that stakeholders in the agriculture sector are taking in terms of livestock survival in Matabeleland South region, an official said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president, Mr Donald Khumalo, said as farmers they appreciated the effort made by Government in intervening in cotton farmers issue and urged Government to extend the same gesture to livestock farmers.
Government gave an order raising the buying price of cotton from 29 to 77 cents for the lowest grade per kilogramme after the impasse between farmers and buyers escalated as producers held on to their crop demanding buyers raise the price to between 49 and 80 cents per kilogramme.
“There are cattle which are under quarantine in areas like Manama and Kafusi because of diseases hence they cannot be moved to places with better grazing areas and these cattle need to be fed. Government should intervene and save the livelihoods of people in Matabeleland South,” said Mr Khumalo.
He said they were engaging various stakeholders and investors to help with the cattle feedlots as they believed these were the answer to livestock survival in the drought prone region.
“This project is still in the pipeline and we are not giving up on it because it is of paramount importance to the farmers. If not dealt with urgently, farmers are at risk of losing all their livestock which is their source of livelihood,” he said.
Farmers in Matabeleland South have resorted to selling their cattle at give away prices in a bid to counter the risk of losing everything and some resettled farmers are now allegedly taking advantage of and ripping off villagers who are desperate to save their livestock.
Matabeleland South has a population of more than 530 000 cattle and over the years farmers have been losing their livestock because of the recurrent droughts that continue to dog the province.
Last year, between May and August, the province lost 2 000 cattle through starvation.
Matabeleland South, which is conducive to cattle ranching, receives less than 450 millimetres of rainfall per year, the lowest annual rainfall compared to the rest of the country.