The livestock situation in Matabeleland has become dire with pastures having significantly deteriorated while cattle are succumbing to the drought.
Matabeleland, owing to low rainfall the region receives, always bears the brunt of the drought every year.
Cattle are a source of livelihood for people in the region known for producing quality beef.
Farmers who spoke to CITE today said all was not well on the ground regarding the livestock situation.
“The pastures have already dried, there is no more water, we are in a very difficult situation as farmers,” said Donald Khumalo, former Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) president.
“We are just praying that rains come a bit earlier otherwise, it will be a disaster, because the situation is dire.”
He said while some farmers had started supplementary feeding for their livestock, the challenge remained the unavailability of the stock feed and exorbitant prices.
“Dams, especially in Matabeleland South, have dried most of them, and it is now a struggle to find water for the livestock and for the dairy cows it is worse because they require more water,” added Khumalo.
A cattle rancher in Insiza, Jonathan Nsingo, also said water was a challenge for them.
“Our cattle are already dying because water has just become so scarce and we are now relying on a few remaining boreholes and some wells that we have to dig,” he said.
“It is a double drought for both livestock and human beings because the water problem is affecting people as well.”
He said stock feed in the district was also not readily available.
“As I speak to you right now, I am on my way to Filabusi centre to check if I can get something for my cattle.”
He said despite the poor condition of the livestock, some farmers were still selling them in order to later buy supplementary to save some of the cattle.
Two weeks ago, Beitbridge proportional representation legislator, Lisa Singo, engaged businesses and organisations dealing with animal products to avail stock feed to the district where over 500 head of cattle have succumbed to drought since the beginning of the 2018-19 farming season.