Farmers have lost over 30 000 cattle to a combination of the recent dry spell that decimated pastures and drinking water, and various diseases such as anthrax, January Disease (Theileriosis) and tick-borne diseases, due to lack of dipping chemicals.
Among the farmers who have lost their cattle is Vice President Kembo Mohadi who had 271 of his herd succumbing to drought in Matabeleland South.
Livestock is a major source of livelihood for villagers and the death of cattle is leaving them without the much-needed draught power, exposing them to food insecurity due to tillage challenges.
Cattle also provide villagers with manure (organic fertiliser), which is used to fertilise their crops, particularly at this time when prices for inorganic fertilizers are beyond the reach of many.
Statistics show that Matabeleland South Province has been the hardest hit, with over 16 000 cattle dying, while Masvingo lost over 13 000.
Other provinces have smaller numbers of cattle deaths since they are not conducive for large-scale cattle breeding.
Water bodies in Matabeleland South were drying up before the current rains, making it difficult for cattle to get drinking water and pastures.
Cattle farmers in Beitbridge, among them Vice President Kembo Mohadi, said the number of animals that succumbed to the recent dry spell continued to rise.
This has forced some farmers to sell their livestock for a song, just to get rid of them before they die on their own.
VP Mohadi’s lawyer Mr Norman Mugiya said the VP was losing about 10 beasts per day.
Beitbridge East legislator Cde Albert Nguluvhe said he lost over 100 cattle at his farm in Bubi, mainly due to water shortages.
“Most cattle are forced to go for long distances in search of water and clearly an already starving cow or beast going through such a challenging situation is not likely to survive, he said.
“We are saying Government should support farmers by providing them with tractors and slashers so that they can be able to cut grass growing on roadsides and feed their cattle.”
Mr Tamson Lamola of Mazunga resettlement area in Matabeleland South said he lost 25 cattle in the last three months.
He said despite efforts to save his livestock through providing stock feed, water shortages continued to haunt the area, as sources were drying up.
Mr Lamola said so far, he has spent $25 000 on stock feed, which is not readily available locally.
“We are appealing to Government to avail more stock feed to affected areas as we are struggling to access the product locally,” he said