The Sunday News
Judith Phiri , Business Reporter
Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers)’s Sunday News is set to host the Effective Livestock Disease Management Conference in Bulawayo on Friday.
The event which will be held at a local hotel will run under the theme: “Reviving the Livestock Sector for Vision 2030: Tackling the Theileriosis (January) Disease.” In Zimbabwe January disease has been a problem resulting in thousands of cattle succumbing to the disease in recent years. It is common between December and March and is spread through the bite of the brown ear tick. More than 65 percent of cattle deaths in Zimbabwe are caused by tick-borne diseases, with 500 000 cattle valued at US$150 million having died of January disease from 2018 to 2022, according to reports.
The guest of honour at the conference will be the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Professor Obert Jiri, with the Ministry’s Department of Veterinary Services chief director, Dr Josphat Nyika also set to be one of the speakers
In an interview, Sunday News Editor, Limukani Ncube, said the idea for the conference was to bring stakeholders together to deliberate on best possible ways to tackle the disease.
“We as the Sunday News saw it fit to organise a conference of this nature where all stakeholders can come together and discuss ways to manage and control January disease. We have realised that over the years when it is towards the end of the year and the start of the year our diary is full of stories where farmers are counting their losses having lost a lot of cattle to the disease. So, we felt it was a good idea to create a platform where farmers, the government and various stakeholders can come together and discuss ways of combating January disease,” he said.
Ncube said tackling January disease was critical to ensure the success of a livestock economy.
“We believe that the livestock economy will not come to fruition if diseases that affect cattle are not taken care of. We are glad that the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development has come on board full time in support of this conference,” he added.
He said there will be a diverse panel of experts and veterinary professionals while some farmers will share their encounters. The facilitator of the conference, Mhlupheki Dube, a livestock specialist and columnist said the tickborne disease has left devastating loses in the Matabeleland region.
“We have seen massive loses of cattle due to the disease. It has been traditionally domiciled in the higher rainfall areas of this country such as Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central but it has since migrated to this part of the country which is generally a dry region. This is part of the conversation that we want to have during the conference to say are there new pieces of knowledge that the farmers should know in terms of what has been attributed to the movement or migration of the disease from its traditional areas of occurrence to Matabeleland region.
Farmers need to know what they can do or what has to be done to contain and prevent the disease because the losses are massive as we have seen it being reported in the media.”
He said cattle were a huge investment for some people while also contributing significantly to the country and any loss had massive impacts. Dube said they look forward to having farmers at the conference so that they can share their experiences, frustrations and disappointments as well as their joys around farming, but to mostly gain knowledge on practical actions that can be taken to prevent early losses and spread of the disease.
Topics to be covered at the event will include January disease control and treatment, livestock movement and regulation compliance, irregular dipping, absence of veterinary cordon fences and ensuring economic viability of the livestock sector to ensure Vision 2030, among others.
Key speakers will include founder and managing director of Securico and Zvikomborero Farms, Dr Divine Ndhlukula, chief regulatory officer of the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ), Dr Zivanai Makoni and Dr Oswin Choga an Animal Health Lead Ruminants specialist, Matabeleland South farmer and Insiza councillor, Jistinah Ndondo, who lost about 50 cattle to January disease last year, among other speakers.