Drought ravages Binga livestock

Cumanzala said the situation was dire, leaving villagers poorer because they rely on cattle and fish farming for a living.

BINGA South Member of Parliament, Fanuel Cumanzala (Citizens Coalition for Change) has expressed concern over the rate at which livestock is dying in the district due to the El Niño-induced drought.

Cumanzala said the situation was dire, leaving villagers poorer because they rely on cattle and fish farming for a living.

“Areas like Simatelele, Siachilaba and Lubu are the hardest hit. We are witnessing a high livestock mortality rate of three in every five cattle. The crisis has been worsened by the decline in water levels in the Zambezi River which is also affecting fishing business,” Cumanzala said.

“Fishing, once a viable livelihood, is now unsustainable, exacerbated by overfishing in the Zambezi River as climate change impacts on rainfall patterns.”

The legislator added that some villagers are already involuntarily selling their cattle to avoid losses.

“The cost of livestock per beast has already gone down as farmers sell them for almost nothing to get food and avoid losing them to drought. On average, a beast is now being sold for US$150 against a normal price of US$400,” he said.

The district is perennially food insecure due to low yields triggered by low rainfall.

“Binga district is grappling with a precarious food security situation, primarily due to the inadequate harvests in the previous 2022/2023 agriculture seasons across its 25 wards. This farming season planting has been delayed in numerous areas due to the ongoing El Niño effects which delayed the rains,” Cumanzala said.

“Some farmers tried early dry planting, but this resulted in poor germination and wilting of germinated crops due to the intense heat that preceded the 26-30 December 2023 nationwide rains. This points to an imminent poor harvest again at the end of this season.

“The impact of this El Niño extends to livestock with farmers losing animals due to absence of water for livestock. The delayed rainfall led to dried water sources for livestock, depleted pastures and a lack of strategic marketing.”

He said Binga’s breadbasket area of Lusulu has stopped selling maize as the farmers reserve whatever they have for the uncertain future.

“Those who are selling continue to increase the cost of maize which went up from US$5 in August to US$9 per bucket in December last year,” Cumanzala said.

“By February it is projected that a bucket of maize will be selling at US$15 which is way beyond the reach of the majority of poor households in Binga district.”

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