By Providence Maraneli
THE fight to contain livestock epidemics in Matabeleland South province has received a major boost after government availed new laboratory equipment to the Veterinary Services Department.
The cattle breeding province of Matabeleland South has lost a sizable number of cattle to epidemics such as theileriosis and heart water which is also having a ripple effect on efforts to boost the national herd.
Government has since intervened by equipping the veterinary services laboratory to detect and test for suspected outbreaks before major losses are recorded.
“We were facing a challenge of having to wait for weeks after we have sent tests to Harare and before we know it, a suspected outbreak could have happened before we could put measures. But now, we have a new laboratory that will allow us to test and proffer solutions before the situation gets out of hand,” said Dr Enat Mdlongwa, Matabeleland South Provincial veterinary officer.
On the recurring theileriosis in Insiza, the Veterinary Services Department is carrying out tests on all the cattle around the red zones after farmers agreed to comply with the required standards.
“We have an agreement with farmers around Lancaster farm where cattle are still dying from Theileriosis that we do tests on all the cattle and they will sell all that are found positive and farmers will use the money to bring new clean herds. As we speak we are sitting on a thousand tests in our laboratory,” he said.
The government launched the livestock growth plan in 2020 to resuscitate the national herd that had been decimated by drought and diseases.
If figures from the Provincial Second Crop and Livestock Assessment report are anything to go by, there has been a marked increase with the province now boasting of a cattle herd of 650 000 compared to 630 000 in 2021.