By Alois Vinga
AGRICULTURE Minister Perrance Shiri has urged farmers to buy their own cattle dipping chemicals to save their diminishing herds while admitting government has been “erratic” in its own supplies.
Speaking in parliament recently, Shiri said government was aware of continued cattle mortality throughout the country while several inconsistencies have made it impossible to deliver the chemicals.
“As Government, we are buying chemicals and taking them to the rural areas so that cattle can get dipping services,” he said.
“At times we delay sending these chemicals to the dip tanks in rural areas. Therefore, I am now informing Members of Parliament to go to their constituencies and encourage these farmers to pull their own resources and buy these chemicals.
“It is pointless for a farmer to be proud of seeing a very big herd of cattle then they die because the farmer cannot sell just one beast to sustain the remaining ones.”
Shiri said a $2 fee currently being paid by farmers for dipping services countrywide was too little to buy the required chemicals.
The remarks come amid reports by the Veterinary Services Department that between November 2017 to May 2018, some 3 430 cattle were lost to tick-borne diseases and by November 2018, the department confirmed that over 15 000 cattle deaths partly because the nation’s dipping stations were going for months without the required chemicals.
As a result, diseases such as Theileriosis usually caused by the tick borne diseases continue to ravage the national herd.
Hardest hit districts are Goromonzi, Marondera, Chikomba, Wedza, Buhera, Chivhu, Gutu, Chegutu, Centenary, Bindura and Shamva.
In Bindura, most households have lost all the cattle they had due to the disease.
Shiri said that there is currently no policy in place to assist affected farmers restock.
He urged farmers to take advantage of government’s command livestock programme which allows farmers to borrow money for repayment in five years’ time.