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Zimbabwe Farmers Buy Breeding Cattle in Namibia, South Africa

Zimbabwe's cattle herd was almost Dlodlo decimated over the years by perennial droughts, poor farming methods and other factors.

Some farmers say they are boosting the national cattle herd through buying breeding stock from various countries.

Cattle breeder Themba Dlodlo says they are buying cows and bulls from Namibia and South Africa at reasonable charges.

Dlodlo says it will take time for the country to revive its cattle herd decimated over the years by perennial droughts and slaughtering of breeding stock by white commercial farmers who lost their land to indigenous farmers during Zimbabwe’s land invasions that started in 2000.

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The government this year embarked on a nationwide programme to impart farmers with agricultural skills after it sourced $11,3 million from the Food and Agriculture Organization for supporting livestock rearing.

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, decimated the national cattle herd and goats, particularly in the Matabeleland, Midlands and Masvingo regions following the drought experienced in 2012.

The government has also teamed up with companies like Nestle Zimbabwe and introduced a cattle restocking programme.

Nestle Zimbabwe is expected to purchase 2,000 heifers under the 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.

The finance minister also announced in January this year that government, in partnership with Agribank, was 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 was set aside in support of livestock production.

According to Chinamasa, 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.