Stock theft, disease wipes out farmers

BY PAUL PALATI
CHIREDZI - Peasant farmers at Chiredzi South Matibi 2 area near Gonarenzou National Park are increasingly faced by massive stock theft and diseases. Cattle and small animals, like sheep and goats, are vanishing in large numbers in the area due to diseases like anthrax, foot and mou

th, red water and heart water spread by ticks and tsetse-flies. Stolen animals are sold in Mozambique to cope with the continuing drought and food shortages in the area.
The situation is made worse by the withdrawal of some Non Governmental Organizations like World Vision under World Food Program who used to provide food for hungry people. The reason for their withdrawal is that the Zimbabwean government has accused them of siding with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Many shops are also closing down due to lack of income.
According to farmers, cattle often go from three to four month without being dipped due to shortage of dip and other medicines. Consequently, cattle are increasingly badly affected by ticks and tsetse-flies. A veterinary surgeon in the area, Jethro Mavambe, says he often visits other veterinarians in Chiredzi to obtain medicine but usually return empty handed. He therefore urges farmers to try and obtain medicine themselves from abroad. “It is very difficult to obtain medicine from abroad because there is now so little foreign currency available in Zimbabwe,” Mavambe said.
It has been estimated that the livestock of farmers in the area has depleted by 45,000 last year because of deaths and theft. This number is expected to increase this year because of the ravaging drought, which will create more shortages. Areas like Chilonga, Masivamele, Chikombedzi and Chibwedziva, in particular, are severely affected by diseases and drought. The high temperatures in these areas encourage the breeding of ticks and tsetse-flies and contribute to poor rainfall.
Farmers say farming will become even more difficult next year because their animals will be too weak to pull ploughs and they will have to use hoes to till the land. They strongly feel that the government is ignoring their problems. “The government is to blame because is not trying to solve our problems and we do not know what to do”, Runesu Togarepi said, fed up by the situation. “We do not know what to do; they tried to get the police to stop stock theft, but it does not help,” Mavambe added.
However, Masenyani Zachariah, the ward councilor in the area, says farming is his top priority and he will make sure that people’s grievances reach the government before the end of the year.

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