By Tonderai Saharo
THE devastating effects of the El Nino induced draught are beginning to take a toll on the country’s pastures with Masvingo beef farmers at risk of losing their livestock due to fast depleting grazing land which experts fear could run out in the next two months.
Masvingo province is a naturally suitable livestock rearing area owing to its climate which is conducive for cattle.
It is a region that carries some of the country’s largest cattle herds but the effects of recurrent draughts has left the province with depleted pastures while water bodies are also drying up.
The country received below average rainfall during the 2018/19 farming season.
Masvingo provincial beef producers’ association chairman Robert Makado said the situation is now gloomy for farmers as the province is slowly running out of pastures and the situation has further affected the quality of beef being supplied to butcheries.
He urged farmers who no longer afford to buy supplementary feed for their livestock to immediately start destocking.
“80 percent of grazing land in the province is now in a poor condition and we are projecting that by early October, we could have run out of pastures and farmers are now at risk of losing their herds due to hunger.
“This is the time that farmers should start to sell their herds and remain with a manageable number as we are projecting to see cattle succumbing to hunger within the next two months,” Makado said.
Livestock rearing plays a critical role in the country’s gross domestic product and remains a major source of wealth and livelihood for the country’s rural population.
Players in the livestock industry have over the years accused government of failing to introduce programmes aimed towards minimising the impact of drought on livestock.