The Sunday News
ONE of the common conversations among livestock farmers in Matabeleland during these past months has been the imminent drought especially as it relates to livestock survival.
Somehow people in this part of the country and I suppose in other parts as well which are prone to recurrent droughts such as parts of Manicaland and Masvingo provinces have accepted their own fate regarding to drought and can leave with that but it is the livestock part which gives them headaches as to how to protect their investment from succumbing to this natural phenomenon.
However, it is encouraging to know that there are some initiatives that are done by some Non-Governmental Organisations working in collaboration with some abattoirs to help farmers save their herds. I know for a fact that in Nkayi and Bubi districts in Matabeleland North an NGO and a prominent abattoir, both whom I shall not mention by names because I did not get their permission, have started a programme in which livestock farmers exchange their animals for stock feed to supplement their animals.
The abattoir sells the stock feed to the farmers through a smart batter trading system which involves evaluating the animal and giving the farmer an equivalent number of bags in stock feed.
This is done right at community level hence the farmer has no transport cost for the feed as the feed is brought by the same truck that comes to carry the animals to the abattoir. It is my genuine view that farmers who are in areas that have such programmes should grab the opportunity and save their animals. Technically this means the farmer is now doing what extensionists and other livestock experts have always preached, to sell some animals and use the proceeds to save the remaining ones.
The snag has always been the reluctance by livestock farmers to follow through the process until they bring home the bags of stock feed because of the tedious processes that are involved when one wants to sell an animal.
Now that the programme has been brought to the community it is my counsel that farmers should utilise this opportunity and when this trial becomes a success, the concerned organisations can have the courage to replicate the same to other districts and even other similar organisations or companies can copy this strategy of smart batter trade between the livestock farmer and the market itself.
Also, farmers are encouraged not to fold their hands and hope the drought situation will solve itself without their involvement. Farmers must be proactive in solution seeking and provision. Some districts are already doing it, for example I know for a fact that Mangwe District will be holding a livestock indaba at the beginning of next month and the sole purpose of the indaba is to find solutions to the glaring drought facing the livestock farmers.
I am one person who strongly believes in the power of the round table and that when minds converge to seek a way out, a solution is always found. Farmers lets engage whoever we need to engage so as to save our herds.
Talking of livestock losses, it made for depressing reading the article about a serious stock theft syndicate in Matabeleland South Province specifically in Gwanda and Beitbridge.
Two things are depressing in that article, firstly the alleged involvement of police and secondly the continued featuring of Shanyawugwe Village in the southern part of Gwanda as a national headquarters of stock theft.
The allegations about involvement of police in this painful syndicate needs to be investigated and culprits brought to justice.
It becomes a paradox or mockery that our police have a whole anti-stock theft unit and somehow that unit has mutated to be the driver of stock theft.
In fact, one is tempted to think that Shanyawugwe Village is a thriving stock theft industry because of the complicity involvement of the police.
How else would an obscure village is some rural Gwanda become an undisputed national headquarters of stock theft?
This case stinks and needs serious consideration from the corridors of the police itself or else livestock farmers will never know no peace.
Uyabonga umntaka MaKhumalo.
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