By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE lost a herd of 200 000 cattle in 2018 owing to disease outbreaks and the severe drought which hit the country last year.
This is according to the 2018 fourth quarter report released recently by the Finance Ministry.
“During the fourth quarter of 2018, growth of the cattle herd was affected by drought conditions and disease outbreaks, which reduced the herd and also compromised quality of beef.
“By December 2018, the cattle herd is estimated at about 5.4 million from 5.6 million of January 2018,” the report says.
The country’s livestock sector has been battling to end the tick borne disease but foreign currency shortages have frustrated efforts to import the required vaccines.
The quarterly document also observes that as a result, formal cattle slaughters declined to 58 170 in the last quarter of 2018, an all-time low since 2016.
“The contraction in beef production is also attributed to declining demand caused by the general price increases experienced during the quarter,” the report says.
The numbers of remaining livestock in the country could have further dwindled due to the effects of Cyclone Idai which struck some parts of Manicaland recently.