Farmers want livestock policy reviewed

Farmers in the region say the policy is too harsh and retrogressive and have appealed for better mechanisms to promote livestock farming.

The government policy of destroying livestock driven into another zone without permits or proper clearance has riled farmers in Matabeleland.

Farmers in the region say the policy is too harsh and retrogressive and have appealed for better mechanisms to promote livestock farming.

Other farmers, however, said the policy was a good measure to prevent the whole country from being turned into a red zone because of animal diseases.

Sunday Southern Eye heard that at least 50 cattle have been destroyed since January because of January (Theileriosis) disease fears.

Nkayi Community Parliament deputy speaker and communal farmer, Nkosilathi Ncube, said the government must control the movement of cattle.

"I am against the killing of animals but I suggest the government must impound the animals and if it's the owner, they can fine the owner and give then back their animals,” Ncube said.

“If it's an unknown person the cattle must be forfeited to the state. Unless they have some disease, then they can be quarantined or destroyed,” said Ncube adding that the policy must be amended.

 “We must use the local Neighbourhood watch committee members to assist in the clearing of cattle and put in place community policing forums to ensure that the cattle that are transported are properly cleared and those who are caught stealing cattle must face the mandatory jail term."

Matabeleland South farmer and Kirton Farmers Association chairperson, Moketsi Basuthu, said the government must make it easy to obtain clearance permits.

"The modus operandi of getting a vet permit and stock clearance from the police needs to be better oiled so that farmers don’t struggle when they have to move their livestock,” Basuthu said.

“Destruction of livestock to farmers naturally speaks to loss of livelihood. Again, we don’t expect a farmer who has his livelihood at heart and that of his fellow farming community to will-nilly move theeir stock without requisite authority."

Basuthu also called on authorities to tighten cattle fencing policies.

"The fences Act is poorly enforced, yet it should be there to augment the disease management and livestock movement act,” he said.

“A glaring example of failure to effect the Fencing Provisions Act is the state of roadside fence which was erected along the Bulawayo to Harare road.

“A drive on that road will show a few remaining poles and a gate here and there with the fence having been stolen on a good stretch of the road.”

A Matabeleland South farmer Ben Moyo was however in support of a policy of destroying impounded livestock.

"People need clearance to move cattle,” Moyo said. We simply have to follow the law and will enable our animals to be healthy and as farmers we can make more money from them.

“If our cattle for example were to stray into Botswana, because cattle are big business in Botswana they will shoot them."

On February 24, the  Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Rural Development issued a notice calling on farmers to refrain from illegally moving livestock without proper documentation.

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