WASHINGTON DC —
Dozens of cattle are reportedly dying in Matabeleland South due to severe drought that has also seen a growing number of school children dropping out of school.
According to the Commercial Farmers Union, Zimbabwe produced 1.4 million tonnes of maize last year, far short of the 2.1 million the country needs.
Matabeleland South, which is in the drought-prone region five, is also experiencing very high unprecedented temperatures that have seen pastures wilting fast.
As a result of the dying cattle prices, beef prices have gone down as villagers sell off their stock to avoid losing them to the drought.
Agronomist, Mandla Nkomo, told Studio 7 that since most people in the rural areas rely on cattle for draught power the death of the cattle will further reduce crop yields in the coming season.
“When you consider that a few weeks ago you and I were talking about the El Nino situation which is resulting in drier than normal conditions and means that the rains are going to be late and are not going to be sufficient, it’s not surprising,” he said.
Nkomo said the figure of 300 cattle that are said to have succumbed to the drought is actually much lower than what is actually happening.
He said because most of the rural folk, who contribute the bulk of maize produced for the entire country, rely on animal draught power the yields are going to be compromised.
“And when the rains do come, if they come at all, they are going to find the cattle emaciated and weak,” he said.
Nkomo said in South Africa and some parts of Zimbabwe beef prices have gone down because of the lack of grazing pastures that has forced farmers to sell off their stock.
He said: “A lot of your cattle farmers have looked at their stock holdings, they have looked at the available grazing and they are taking a business decision that you would rather sell your animal no and get some value for them than let them die because of lack of grass and water.”