January disease, farmers ought to be very scared!

22 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
January disease, farmers ought to be very scared!

The Sunday News

THIS article is designed to scare you, to frighten you, to horrify you, to alarm you, to worry you and yes to panic you, for you ought to be for as long as you are a livestock farmer or at least a player in the livestock value chain and you are in the Matabeleland region! 

At least this is the feeling I have been having all week following news circulating in both mainstream and social media circles about the January disease which is spreading and ravaging cattle in the Fort Rixon area of Matabeleland South Province as well as the neighbouring Midlands Province especially around Shurugwi area. 

I have written more than once about Theileriosis, commonly known as January disease, but the urge to write again never passes me when I hear of the migration of this disease from its traditional areas of Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces to Matabeleland. Like I alluded to, on my first line above, everyone in the livestock value chain ought to be frightened out of his/her wits because this disease has no mercy on the hard earned investment for livestock farmers. 

It is my view that when you are scared, you will begin to take both corrective and preventative action. First, let me frame the virulence of this disease and what it can do to the livestock farmer so that those who have not met or seen its results will appreciate what is coming their way. 

Your animals will die in droves, and you will buy lots of veterinary drugs which are not only expensive but are essentially useless because their efficacy on this particular disease has shown to be extremely low. So, you have your animals dropping like flies, you are buying expensive drugs and the animals continue dying because the drugs are not helpful in the majority of cases. 

Drug manufacturers will context this but ask the farmers in areas like Wedza, Gutu, Chivhu and parts of Buhera, they will share horrific stories about this disease. In fact, in those areas now you drive for several kilometres along rangelands and all you see is very low unutilised grass and no animals in sight. 

Most herds were wiped out and farmers are both frightened and not keen to reinvest in livestock again. Now it’s on our doorsteps because of farmers recklessness, for example the Fort Rixon case, a stupid farmer moved animals from an area quarantined because of the presence of the disease. 

The farmer clandestinely moved the animals into his property and the result is misery for all his neighbours. Allow me readers to dramatise what this disease will do to the livestock value chain if it is not brought under control sooner than later. 

The stockfeed manufacturers will close shop, because there will be no animals anymore, so will transporters and veterinary drugs store. Crop production will go down because there will be no draught power for farmers and there will be no manure as well. 

Most importantly a lot of families will slide into abject poverty because their lifelong investment has been cleaned by the January disease. Remember, dear reader that most people moved their investment into the livestock sector because of the inflationary economic environment we have had for close to two decades now. 

Anyone who needed to invest so that they can be able to retire in comfort or be able to send their kids to schools and tertiary institutions, put their money into livestock. This is the investment which is seriously threatened by this ruthless disease and like I said above, you ought to be alarmed. 

This is therefore a call for all stakeholders who are involved with livestock to drop everything else you have been doing and arm yourself for this very important battle. Let us support our Government veterinary extension arm to run around and contain this disease. 

As private sector now is the time to plough back and protect your industry or else you will soon find yourself in the streets with no clients anymore. If the department of veterinary services wants to remain relevant to the livestock farmer, now is the time to bring your top game to town and contain this menacing disease. 

Believe you me if farmers go through this on their own, you will never be respected as key players in the livestock extension, check with your colleagues in the areas where this disease has cleaned out farmers. 

Above all as farmers, now is the time for us to be very vigilant and self-policing, in terms of animal movement. Do not allow a person to just hoof animals into your area without proper papers because you could soon find your area burning. 

Again, as farmers let us be very diligent with regards to dipping our animals. Let us follow the recommended dipping regimes and ensure we dip all our animals not just a few we could locate from the rangeland. This calls for owners of animals to be present in most if not all dipping days to ensure that your stockmen brought all the animals to the dip tank. 

Otherwise I say, good luck to us because we will need it! 

Uyabonga umntaka MaKhumalo. Mhlupheki Dube is a livestock specialist and farmer. He writes in his own capacity. Feedback [email protected]/ cell 0772851275 

Share This: