The Government through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce launched the Support to the Beef and Leather Value Chain Technical Assistance Project to boost the number of cattle that had been reduced in the country due to recurring droughts affecting the country in Harare yesterday.
The pilot project, that was financially assisted by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is targeting Matebeleland North with the ultimate aim of replicating it nationwide once it is successful according to the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha.
“I am also pleased to note that 90% of the cattle in the country come from small scale communal farmers. Matabeleland North contributes approximately 10.9% of the total national cattle herd estimated at 5.5 million.” said the Minister during the launch of the project at the Holiday Inn.
Matebeleland North falls under region 4 and 5 which have recorded success in cattle ranching since the colonial period according to the Zimbabwe Division of Veterinary Services website.
Besides the project, the government has put initiatives aimed at increasing livestock herds are currently being implemented to support farmers’ incomes and create new market opportunities for livestock derived products, including hides and skins according to the Industry and Commerce Minister.
The initiatives include hay cutting, to ensure availability of food in dry periods; increase water points, to reduce livestock deaths during drought and dry times. Also cross breeding support through artificial insemination to improve quality of breeds; and Irrigation of pastures, especially for A2 and commercial farmers.
“To this end, the 2017 Budget set aside US$3.385 million for extension services, and US$2.684 million for the Veterinary Department for purposes of enhancing monitoring of livestock movement for disease control,” noted the Minister .
The government, in conjunction with development partners, is working to support rebuilding of the national herd, comprising beef cattle and other smaller domestic animals with the aim of increasing the herd from 5.5 million to 5.8 million by the end of this year.
The country witnessed a drop in the national cattle herd from nearly six million in 1996 down to 5.3 million in 2015 according to Southern Eye a local paper.
The Southern Times reported that Zimbabwe has lost more than 24 thousand lost cattle last year due to drought according to The Southern Times.