By Vumani Mthiyane
The beneficiaries of Command Livestock in Matabeleland South have been urged to opt for supplementary feeding and dose their cattle in a bid to save them from the impending drought in the region, an agriculture livestock specialist has said.
Matabeleland South livestock officer, Zondani Muchemwa said farmers should desist from depending on government handouts.
“Government provides supplementary stock feed to both Command Livestock beneficiaries and communal farmers at large although the feed is not enough to cater for every farmer.
“As a livestock department, we are therefore urging farmers to buy their own supplementary feed. Failure to do so, their animals will succumb to death as a result of the drought faced by the nation.
“In the event of this mishap, the beneficiary will be at the losing end as he/she will be compelled to do loan re-payment of a product he is no longer having,” said Muchemwa.
Matabeleland South Provincial Administrator, Sithandiwe Ncube echoed similar sentiments with the livestock specialist.
“The government is not encouraging the dependency syndrome hence farmers must learn to buy their own supplementary feeding and vaccines rather than wait to be spoon fed.
“Those who benefited from the command livestock programme must know that those cattle are for re-stocking in building the national herd. Those animals still remain government property,” quipped P.A Ncube.
When CITE visited nearby resettlements around Gwanda town, some of the farmers raised concern that the drought situation was affecting their livestock.
“Go and tell the department of veterinary services that our cattle are dying of tick diseases and hunger. You can see that the pastures have dried out and the water situation is dire, therefore the government must do something as a matter of urgency,” said one farmer, from Chindeni farm.
However, when the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Marshal, Perence Shiri was handing over the last batch to livestock beneficiaries at Gwanda showgrounds in January, urged the beneficiaries to repay the loans.
“Those that have benefited from this project must know that these animals must not be sold neither are they for slaughter. In addition, they must not fall sick or die because it’s a loan that has to be repaid after five years without fail,” he said.
It is reported that one beneficiary from Nkwidzi village under Chief Muzimuni Masuku lost all the five heifers to cattle rustlers the same week she received them.
Meanwhile, 711 cows distributed in Mat South under the command livestock programme have calved while some are in a calving stage as of March this year. A total of 1 739 cattle have so far been distributed to 437 farmers.