Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
FARMERS in Matabeleland North have been urged to diversify and grow fodder and legumes to counter effects of drought.
This comes in the wake of reports that Matabeleland North province had lost 6 466 cattle to drought by end of November last year.
The province had by August last year 685 974 cattle and there are fears that unless supplementary feeding is introduced, the figure could drop sharply.
Agritex provincial livestock officer, Mr Admore Chikohwa said cattle in the province were dying as a result of drought and the mortality rate could be higher than the official figures as some cases were not reported.
Mr Chikohwa said urgent measures were needed to counter the effects of drought such as growing fodder.
“We have not yet received meaningful rains to recharge water bodies and improve pastures.
“Urgent measures should be taken to boost water for watering the animals as well as provide supplementary feeding. We are therefore urging farmers to plant fodder crops such as legumes and grass,” said Mr Chikohwa.
He said farmers could get seeds from Matopos Research Centre, seed houses and from fellow farmers.
Farmers should also invest in water reservoirs, said Mr Chikohwa.
“In survival situations, for every kilogramme of dry feed you provide, it has to be followed with a minimum of 10 litres of water to allow solubilisation and ultimate digestion and absorption of the feed by the body.”
Mr Chikohwa challenged farmers to reclaim dongas to prevent erosion in pasture lands and also to rehabilitate dams so as to harvest more water.
Farmers can also rotate pastures and also destock where necessary.
Some of the livestock died due to tick-borne diseases because some areas have no water to fill-up dip tanks.
Mr Chikohwa said communal farmers who make up 75 percent of the provincial herd could not afford to buy dipping [email protected]