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January disease victims in limbo


SCORES of farmers in Mashonaland East who lost their entire herds to January disease have appealed to government for assistance with farming machinery as the summer cropping season approaches.


The worst affected districts were Wedza, Chikomba and Goromonzi where farmers, according to government, lost over 2 000 cattle to the tick-borne disease.

Some farmers, particularly in Wedza, have been left in limbo as they no longer have any draught power for tillage after losing all their cattle to the disease.

Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs minister David Musabayana yesterday confirmed that the farmers had been affected by the tick-borne disease and said the government had put in place modalities to ensure that those affected got farming machinery.

“As government, we are seized with the matter and what we have done to assist those who lost their cattle or draught power [was to advise them] to approach their Agritex office to register under the command agriculture programme. As you know, the programme has a mechanisation arm where they also do tillage,” he said.

“So once they get registered and we know the numbers from each village who are in need of draught power, then we can avail tractors to till for them. We are fully aware of the looming challenge, and even the Presidium is also aware that farmers lost their cattle.”

January disease, also known as Theileriosis, is caused by a species of theileria, a blood-borne parasite that only affects cattle and is primarily transmitted by ticks.

In its industry update, Livestock and Meat Advisory Council said the country had lost over 2 000 cattle to tick-borne disease this season.

Meanwhile, Musabayana said the disease was now under control and that government has dispatched veterinary doctors to the affected districts.

“We are going to ensure that this won’t happen again through campaigns where we urge people to dip their livestock. We are appealing to those with dilapidated dip tanks to approach their district offices for repairs. Moreover, government has dispatched a specialist veterinary doctor within each district in a bid to arrest the problem,” he said.

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