CATTLE farmers in the drought-hit Matabeleland South Province have pleaded with the government to intervene and help reduce the price of relief stockfeed being sold in the area, saying the $11 charged for a 50kg bag was unaffordable.
Report by Richard Muponde Senior Reporter
Some politicians and villagers yesterday told NewsDay that the government should have further subsidised the stockfeed to $5 per 50kg bag to enable poor farmers to buy supplementary feed for their livestock.
“Villagers are very poor,” said Alexander Phiri, councillor for ward 10 in Matobo.
“We are not buying the stockfeed not because we don’t want, but because we can’t afford. Imagine that a bag only feeds one beast and moreso the stockfeeds are brought in late. So our cattle need more to recover.
“One needs to cough out a lot of money to feed a herd of 20 cattle.”
Matobo district is the hardest-hit area with the highest number of cattle that have succumbed to drought.
“Nothing has changed. Cattle are dying in numbers when the stockfeed is lying around (unbought),” Phiri said.
Matobo South MP Gabriel Ndebele urged the government to make stockfeed affordable to ordinary farmers.
“We have been pushing for price reduction, but we seem to have lost the war. As it is, villagers can’t afford $11,” he said in an interview.
“We had said a bag should be sold at $5, but the government refused.
“Although we are happy that the stockfeed finally arrived and people can get it closer to their homes, something should be done so that it becomes affordable to the poor villagers.”
Matabeleland South governor and Resident Minister Angeline Masuku said she could not comment on the matter as she was out of office for two weeks.
The government launched the $2 million drought relief programme in Gwanda two months ago.
It was announced then that $1,4 million was for survival stockfeed rations, while $600 000 was for vaccines as well as transport to ferry stockfeeds to areas where farmers would easily access them.