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Livestock prices tumble as drought stalks Matabeleland

By Vumani Mthiyane

Cattle buyers are taking advantage of the impending drought to buy livestock at cheap prices from farmers who are forced to destock as they risk losing their livestock due to inadequate pastures and acute water shortages.

This comes at a time when livestock experts have warned that the El Nino-induced drought is likely to claim about half of the livestock in Matabeleland region.

A CITE new crew recently visited Halusipi area in Gwanda South where livestock farmers are busy trying to destock.

At Takaliyawa cattle sale, buyers were buying cows for as low as RTGS$1 500 against a market rate of RTGS$5 000.

Ward 16 councillor, Jairos Mahopolo said the biggest challenge is that cattle sales are being conducted without any grading system but farmers and buyers just come to a mutual agreement which is not proper.

“Besides being a councillor, I am also a farmer and what buyers are doing to us is painful. It is a pity that our cattle do not meet the required grade, that is why we are losing out.

“Buyers are dictating the prices and they caucus before the sale starts to fix the price,” claimed Cllr. Mahopolo.

Tshalelo Sibanda from Takaliyawa said they are forced to sell part of their livestock due to the economic challenges in the country.

“As you can see how big this ox is, it can give me 580kgs live mass and I am expecting RTGS$5 000 but the buyers are only offering RTGS$1 500. We are only selling our livestock because of economic challenges.

“Honestly speaking these buyers are not buying but just taking our cattle for a song. Secondly we are appealing for government intervention to allow us to sell our livestock in foreign currency because basic commodities here are sold in South African rand and Botswana pula,” said Sibanda.  

Lousy Ndlovu from Halusipi appealed for the increase in cattle price arguing that “Stock feed and basic commodities are readily availed but with the price buyers are buying our cattle, we cannot afford to buy these items.”

“Basically, some of us are now selling for the purposes of destocking as we fear to see our livestock dying of hunger,” she said.

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