The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) says government should with immediate effect declare a state of livestock emergency in Matebeleland as a way of luring development partners to step in.
Speaking to Radio Dialogue, ZCFU president Donald Khumalo said government should show commitment to the drought situation that has hit Matabeleland South following reports that cattle have started dying in large numbers. Khumalo said the region is facing a serious drought but government has not made clear intervention measures to assist farmers who are at the verge of losing their livestocks.
He said most farmers cannot afford to buy supplementary feeds saying some have started selling their animals at give-away prices.
“The major problem being faced by most farmers is the absence of grazing land and the availability of water for livestock has also become a challenge, inevitably diseases will begin to manifest themselves,” Khumalo said.
“Farmers cannot afford supplementary feeds, for farmers in the region, livestock is the main source of income therefore to buy the feeds, farmers will have to sell some of their animals to procure the feed. In some cases, they have sold their breeding stock which in itself is a sign of challenges being faced by farmers in the region.”
Khumalo however, said government appears to be doing nothing to mitigate the effects of the drought on communal farmers. He said government should come out in open and seek assistance from development partners.
“What should be done by the government is to pronounce and proclaim the state of livestock in Matebeleland as a national disaster, once that happens whoever has money, will step in to assist the farmers,” said Khumalo.
Deputy Agriculture minister, Seiso Moyo this week said the government is still carrying out research before any livestock saving action can be implemented.
Meanwhile, TN Livestock Trust, a subsidiary of TN Lifestyle Holdings is expected to tap more than US$1,3 from a cattle bank that will provide capital to small holder farmers. According to media reports, the cattle bank will see farmers depositing their livestock to the Livestock Trust which will in turn be converted into cash while retaining ownership of the cattle. Farmers will be able to use their cattle deposits as security when requesting and accessing loans from TN Bank.