At least 1 800 cattle have succumbed to drought in Matabeleland South Province with Gwanda and Beitbridge being the hardest hit districts so far.

A crop and livestock assessment that is being carried out in Matabeleland South indicates that erratic rains experienced in some parts of the districts have impacted negatively on the 2018 /2019 agricultural season.

On the livestock side, the grazing condition is poor to fair in districts such as Gwanda, Beitbridge, Matobo, Bulilima and Mangwe, while the situation in the northern parts of the province, pasture cover is good.

The drought conditions have, however, resulted in the province recording 1 829 poverty deaths and agricultural experts say more needs to done to avert further losses.

“We do have partners that have been assisting farmers in Gwanda, Insiza and Bulilima districts with subsidised feed but it’s not enough. We wish that government could do more to assist farmers with supplementary feed because climate change is real and if we do not act, the region will continue to face losses,” said the Matabeleland South provincial agronomist Mr Innocent Nyathi.

The water supplies for livestock are currently sustained from perennial water sources and boreholes but the bad news is that the current water levels will last till the next rainy season.

Meanwhile, the current state of crops among dry land farmers is poor as most areas experienced a false start to the season.

Poor rainfall distribution also resulted in poor germination of most crops according to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.

78 500 hectares of land had been put under the maize crop this farming season.