Livestock growth agenda on course

By Kenias Chivuzhe

ZIMBABWE is on course to doubling livestock sector growth by 2025, with a raft of measures and investments being made to improve the industry’s viability.

The introduction of veterinary farmer field schools, rehabilitation of dip tanks and distribution of tick grease are some of the measures the government has put in place to improve livestock management and reduce animal deaths.

Farmers are also undergoing training on livestock management to complement measures that the government has put in place to improve the livestock sector’s production capacity.

“Ticks contribute 70 to 80 percent of cattle deaths. The interventions and support by the government will improve the management of our livestock.

“We were not moving with times in terms of animal health measures resulting in cattle deaths. The availability of tick grease has greatly reduced the death of cattle,” said local farmers who spoke to ZBC News.

The implementation of the Presidential Silage Scheme and capacitation of agriculture extension workers is expected to further drive the agriculture transformation process.

“We have a Presidential Silage Scheme for those in the dairy sector. Farmers are being encouraged to register and get inputs from GMB,” said Phillipa Rwambiwa, Agricultural and Rural Development Services acting director in Manicaland.

“We started distributing motorbikes when the Pfumvudza programme was launched in 2018. We have now distributed a total of 4 200 including the motorbikes we are distributing today. Our target is for all the 6000 extension workers to get motorbikes,” said Macdonald Mandere, FSG project manager.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr John Basera gave an insight into the national livestock growth targets.

“We want our livestock sub-economy to reach 2 billion by the year 2025 up from about 1 billion. We are looking at feeds, genetics and fighting tickborne diseases.

“The battle that we must win is ending ticks. Since the year 2015-2016 when the January disease greatly affected the country, we lost over half a million cattle. Our national head is around 5.5 million.

“So, cumulatively we have lost ten percent of our national herd. We are focusing on dip tank resuscitation to end the challenge of tick-borne diseases. We need to consistently dip our cattle every week for the next one and a half to two years,” said Dr Basera.

Besides focusing on the national herd, the Livestock Growth Strategy also includes small animals such as goats, sheep and pigs.

Meanwhile, a tick grease blitz programme launched in November 2020 has reduced cattle deaths by 47 percent in the first year and 39 percent in the second year.