Seven hundred and eleven cows distributed to farmers in Matabeleland South under the Command Livestock Programme have calved while some ranchers have indicated that their heifers are in a calf stage.
It’s been one year since the launch of the programme and farmers in Gwanda district have already doubled the number of animals they received from the government.
One such farmer is Mr Wellington Nyoni of Jannes Farm in West Nicholson who is now assured of servicing his loan at the end of the five-year term, since the herd of five he benefited have all calved.
“As a serious farmer I have ensured from day one that I’m feeding my animals because pastures were not that good. Luckily the five cows I got have calved and are expecting again.
“So I foresee a situation where by the end of five years I will have produced a herd of twenty or so,” said Nyoni.
Another serious livestock breeder Mr John Nyathi from the same area revealed that his heifers are pregnant.
“I am very grateful to the government for this programme. It will transform our lives as farmers and uplift the economy of this province,” said Nyathi.
The message from both farmers was for beneficiaries to take the government programme seriously in order to boost the national herd and grow the agro-based economy.
The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate
and Rural Resettlement Provincial Officer Ms Simingaliphi Ngwabi said the programme that was mainly targeting farmers with a reputable track record is achieving the desired results.
Of the 1 739 cattle that have so far been distributed to 437 farmers, 711 calves have been reported, a development that Ngwabi described as impressive.
“In terms of the animals that were given we expect about 80 percent calving rate banking on the fact that these animals were given to reputable farmers with a known track rate.
“We are saying we want to increase the calving rate and these farmers are aware that this is a loan and they can’t afford to have calves dying,” she said.
In light of the effects of the El-Nino induced drought the agriculture expert encouraged livestock farmers to ensure that they buy supplementary feed for their animals in order to avert losses.
The programme has so far recorded 15 livestock deaths while six have been stolen.