WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe is intensifying cattle production by conducting workshops in various parts of the country encouraging animal husbandry.
Agriculture Minister Paddy Zhanda told VOA Studio 7 the workshops are designed to impart comprehensive skills to livestock farmers.
Zhanda said his ministry and other stakeholders recently held a livestock production outreach programme in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, “which was designed to assist in reviving the national herd.”
“We hope to conduct similar workshops nationwide but particularly in the Matabeleland region which is a livestock rearing area,” said Zhanda.
Communal and other farmers are expected to benefit from these workshops as the Food and Agriculture Organization has committed US$11.25 million in support of livestock production.
Under the programme, farmers in the drier areas of the country have an option to receive a Livestock Support Pack comprising drugs, vaccines and stock feed equivalent to the value of grain input package.
Presenting the 2014 national budget, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said poor pastures, particularly in communal areas, have decimated the national cattle herd and goats, particularly in the Matabeleland, Midlands and Masvingo regions following the drought experienced in 2012.
Chinamasa said in 2014, prospects for improved livestock production are positive with anticipations of a normal rain season for sufficient pastures for livestock grazing.
He said this was supposed to be complemented by the continued ongoing restocking programmes by both government and private sector players such as Nestle Zimbabwe (Pvt) Limited.
Nestle Zimbabwe will purchase 2,000 heifers under a five-year US$14 million programme to enhance dairy farming. The government has set aside US$2 million in support of the on-going livestock development programme.
Government, in partnership with Agribank, is also reportedly finalising modalities for the mobilisation of US$50 million for on lending to A2 farmers at concessionary interest rates of below 9%. Out of this amount, US$10 million will be set aside in support of livestock production.
According to the finance minister, the national herd has not improved significantly since the 1980s due to a number of factors which include inadequate research, erratic funding, coupled with persistent outbreaks of animal diseases.
The on-going livestock development programme is targeting at raising the beef and dairy herd from the current 5.4 million and 27,000 to 6 million and 35,000, respectively, by 2015.