Saturday, 9 November 2019

SAVE OUR CATTLE : CHIEF APPEALS TO GOVT


BEITBRIDGE paramount Chief Vho Stauze has called on Government through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Climate and Rural Resettlement to urgently intervene and save livestock in the area from the effects of the devastating drought.

It is understood that nearly 2 000 cattle have died as a result of drought in Beitbridge since the start of drought last year.

The traditional leader said in an interview last week that the drought situation should be treated as a state of disaster. He said cattle and small livestock rearing was the major economic drivers in the semi-arid district. 

“It’s sad to see cattle dying every day. As the Beitbridge people we are calling on Government through the Ministry of Agriculture to treat our current situation with the urgency. We have people who are willing to sell cows in bad shape to buy stock feed, but access to stock feed is an elusive dream. Beitbridge is the worst district hit hard by the current drought and we cannot continue to fold hands and treat the issues on a business as usual approach. People are losing their source of livelihood and we need a solution without delay.

“We are a cattle country and we are willing to work with anyone with a dream to save our livestock from further deaths. You will note that most cattle are now vulnerable to a number of diseases because of their current bad shape. The situation in the grazing lands is heart wrenching. Stock feed must be brought closer to the people and most of the smallholder farmers are ready to buy at relatively affordable prices”.

The traditional leader said it was also critical for Government to urgently revive the existing feedlots in the community, where people take their animals for feeding. Beitbridge has an estimated 100 000 cattle, 144 000 goats, 60 000 sheep, 70 000 donkeys, 40 000 dogs and 150 000 poultry. On average a standard heifer is sold for R5 000 (equivalent) on the local market and most smallholder farmers have between 100 and 300 herds of cattle. Chief Stauze said the drought situation in the area had been worsened by the drying up of boreholes and other natural water points.

“Our wish is to see departments like the District Development Fund (DDF) being capacitated by Government to attend to our dire water and sanitation issues. The setup where people and their domestic animals are scrambling for the little available water facilities is devastating,” he said. 

The traditional leader said although in some areas members of the community had tried to resuscitate boreholes on their own, they had no capacity to deepen them to the new water table. An estimated 200 000 people live in rural Beitbridge where there are 1 350 registered boreholes. Sunday News

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