At least 36 cattle have died from anthrax countrywide.

Government scheme to reduce cattle mortality

THE Agriculture Rural Development Authority (Arda) says the government’s Livestock Pass on Scheme launched on Friday will enhance management to reduce cattle mortality rate.

This comes as disease related death in cattle was at 68 percent and drought claimed 21 percent of the cattle last season, according to the ministry of Agriculture report last year.

It also comes as the government blames lack of management skills for the retarded growth of the sub sector which increased by less than one percent season.

In an interview with the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, chairperson of Agriculture Rural Development Authority (Arda) Ivan Craig said lack of management skills among farmers is one of the major challenges that contribute to slow growth of the national herd.

“We have a stipulated beef calendar which farmers have to simply follow to manage their livestock well. That is what farmers are supposed to do with their herds and this will reduce calf mortality and disease related deaths, a thing that hinders growth of livestock in Zimbabwe.

“We are looking forward to this programme as it will increase the national herd to six million to 6, 5 million cattle by 2025. The earlier we do it the better. This can only be done by good business models which we are offering to farmers,” Craig said.

Last year deputy Agriculture minister, Vangelis Haritatos said growth of the national herd was less than one percent recording a 0.64 percent growth.

 He said in the 2020-2021 season the national cattle herd was approximately 5,5 million, a slight increase from 5,47 million in the 2019-2020 agriculture year.

According to Craig, disease related death and calf mortality are problems that can be reduced through good management of livestock.

He said experts monitoring the programme will make sure the beneficiaries of the programme will hand over their first calf to other youths.

“These youths went through training on business models, various livestock management programmes. They are expected to turn farming into a business as they have been equipped with skills.”

 “The strict monitoring by Agritex, department of livestock and Arda will ensure that the cow is not slaughtered or sold and the first calf is passed on to another farmer. This will increase the national herd as the calf passed on will be monitored until it reproduces.

“Most of the heifers handed over were in cows meaning they have calves and in a few months will be dropping calves. These calves will be given to the next batch of beneficiaries and whatever comes after that the farmer will retain.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the Provincial Youth Agricultural Skills Development Centres, Livestock Pass on Scheme in Kwekwe on Friday where 600 heifers were distributed to youths across the country with Arda as the custodian of the programme.

by Melissa Chatikobo