Lack of cattle affects crop production in Zimbabwe

HARARE, Dec 26, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The deaths of cattle due to drought have affected crop production in Zimbabwe this season, official media The New Ziana reported on Monday.

The agency said that most farmers in resettlement and communal areas reduced areas their put under crops as drought killed their cattle last season.

The worst affected homesteads lost between five and 15 cattle each as the critical shortage grazing and water deepened, it said, adding the shortage of draught power coupled with the rising cost of essential inputs such as seed and fertilizers worsened the situation.

"We are going to fail to plant most of fields this season because most of us do not have the cattle to plough the land," said a villager. "I lost five cattle to drought and those that remain are still too weak to plough."

In November, the Zimbabwe Rural Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment said the shortage of draught power was one of the top three critical challenges that were essential for rural communities to improve their livelihoods. The other two were sufficient rainfall and reasonable cost of basic commodities.