By Alois Vinga
THE GOVERNMENT has finally made a commitment to avail dipping chemicals to cattle farmers after theileriosis, also known as the January disease, ravaged their livestock leading to a loss of a national herd worth $4.3 billion.
The deadly disease which was first noticed by communal farmers has to date destroyed over a national herd of over 300 000 cattle.
Most of the cattle owners could not afford to purchase the required dipping chemicals and coupled with reduced dipping sessions and impact of the drought, the livestock succumbed to disease.
Presenting the proposed 2021 national budget last week, Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube acknowledged the urgent need to avail dipping chemicals to farmers.
“Arrangements are underway to increase the dipping sessions from the current 32 to 48 dipping sessions per year. To sustain the anticipated dipping sessions, government will avail $577 million for the procurement of dipping chemicals,” he said.
In addition, government committed to support the procurement of 600 000 kg of tick grease for distribution to vulnerable households, with 80 000 kg having already been distributed to the targeted beneficiaries.
The blueprint also provides for the upgrading of at least 50 existing dipping facilities per province as well as rehabilitation of dip tanks across the country.
“Government remains committed towards controlling the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) especially in the non-traditional areas of Mashonaland and Manicaland provinces. This entails conducting regular vaccinations of cattle in the traditional red zones as well as contain the spread of the disease through fencing of national parks,” Ncube said.
The Treasury boss said the erection of game fence will ensure permanent separation of the African buffalo which is the host for the disease.
In line with the plans, resources amounting to $650 million will be availed during the year 2021 and will see the completion of the remaining 100km fence at the Gonarezhou National Park.
“Sustainable growth in the sector will hinge on resilience building efforts against shocks, in addition to productivity enhancement initiatives mentioned above. The sector is projected to grow on average by above 7%,” Ncube added.