The government has been urged to begin implementing strategies aimed at mitigating the effects of drought amid fears that livestock in some parts of Matabeleland South Province has started succumbing to the harsh dry weather conditions.

This came out during a weather forecast dissemination meeting held in Gwanda.

The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has organised a meeting aimed disseminating the 2018 /2019 weather forecast and its implications among critical stakeholders.

The Meteorological Services Department (Met) said with the country expected to face normal to below normal rains, technocrats should cascade the message to farmers to enable them to plan ahead.

“We came here to advise the people in this province about the impending elnino induced drought and to advise them to come up with strategies aimed at mitigating the effects of the adverse weather conditions,” principal agronomist in the Ministry of Lands Ms Mollen Mpandawana.

Already the government has come out with a number of strategies to alleviate the effects of the elnino induced drought among them promoting the production of drought tolerant crops and fodder production, post harvesting management as well addressing water shortages.

“Government has set aside resources for the construction and rehabilitation of dams, boreholes and irrigation systems, there is going to be targeted grain support for vulnerable members of the community and we expect the promotion of livestock sales,” she said.

However, the livestock rearing region wants government and its partners to quickly move in to avert livestock losses by ensure that subsidised supplementary feed is availed to farmers and ensuring price controls of stock feed.

Already cattle have started dying in the province, said the provincial crop and livestock specialist Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu.

“We will experience a lot of deaths due to starvation as we have lost a lot of biomass. We are also seeing the price of stockfeed going up and we believe that this will affect our heard but we have embarked on a vigorous campaign to educate to sale their animals while they are still in good condition and buy feed,” he said.

Livestock farmers on the other hand are being encouraged to ensure that they de-stock while their animals are still in good condition and preserve pastures amid concerns that Insiza North has already lost 60 recently to veld fires.

In 2015 the country lost 25 000 cattle to drought.