Insiza district in Matabeleland South are facing problems of grazing land following an increase in wild fires raising the number of districts in need of supplementary livestock feed to six.
Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister Seiso Moyo speaking to Radio Dialogue said it is sad that villagers are starting veld fires at a time when government is struggling to assist farmers in the region with stock feeds.
“There were five districts that were heavily affected by the drought that is being experienced in several parts of Matebeleland but the inclusion of the sixth has been caused by the recklessness of villagers who are starting veld fires,” Moyo said.
Gibson Siziba a farmer in Insiza concurred that the bush fires have destroyed grazing areas leaving farmers in jeopardy on how they are going to feed their animals.
Moyo said government has since delivered supplementary stock feeds to Beitbridge and Gwanda South districts which have received 120 000 tonnes each.
The minister urged companies selling stock feed to move their products closer to communal farmers as an effort to reduce animal loss.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU)has however expressed concern over the failure by government to urgently put in place drought mitigation measures.
Farmers told Radio Dialogue that politicians are good at making political statements without implementing practical mitigation measures. This follows MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s remarks that his party has a programme aimed at increasing the national herd in Matabeleland, the country’s traditional livestock hub.
Tobias Mlauzi a Norwood based farmer said they (farmers) have taken it upon themselves to save their animals after government failed to intervene. Evelyn Masaiti MDC-T secretary for Agriculture said her party has a livestock breeding scheme through provision of sufficient feeds and water.
“We intend to provide training to people in the region on proper animal husbandry and we also want to make sure there is water provision and enough stockfeed for the region in times of drought,” Masaiti said.
“We also want to make sure there is easy access to veterinary services, dip tanks medicines and everything that is required for animal husbandry.”