Zimbabwe loses more cattle to drought, disease

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - Warning of a looming beef shortage, farmers and government officials said Monday that drought and diseases were taking a heavy toll on Zimbabwe's cattle herd.
They said that the hardest hit were three southern provinces where an estimated 35,000 cattle, worth billions of Zimbabwe dollars, are reported to have died in recent months mainly due to drought and foot and mouth disease.

"It is better for me to sell my remaining cattle than to just watch them die. Already I have lost more than 30 animals," said Maxwell Dube, a farmer in Matabeleland South province, which is the worst affected area.

Provincial administrator Dumisani Ncube said drought had forced most farmers and villagers in Matabeleland South to de-stock en masse, which was expected to cause beef shortages in the country in coming months.

The problem has been compounded by the frequent outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the provinces, which government veterinary services have been unable to control due to lack of vaccines.

The crisis prompted the government two weeks ago to set up a national task force to devise ways the national herd could be saved.

"We discussed a number of possibilities with the task force, but top on the list was the re-location of animals from hard-hit areas to places that still have pastures like Umzingwane," said Ncube.

Zimbabwe, once a major beef exporter, suspended exports last year due to lack of the commodity and the foot and mouth disease.


Pan African News Agency
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