FAO rescues Chivi, Lupane villagers

The continuing drought and high temperatures are causing cattle water sources to become a greater concern.

Farmers in semi-arid areas like Chivi and parts of Matabeleland are still reeling from the devastating effects of the El Nino-induced drought, which has turned their grazing land into “deserts”.

By Phyllis Mbanje recently in Chivi

Many have lost their livestock to drought and their crops were a write off.

“There is inadequate grazing land. Most areas have been turned into deserts,” Chivi district livestock specialist, Irene Chihanga, said.

Most livestock are in a bad state and during a recent tour of some parts of Chivi, villagers were grappling to contain the situation.

Village head, Robert Musvuugwa of Musvuugwa Village said the situation was dire, with the elderly bearing the brunt.

“Many of the elderly are looking after their grandchildren and struggle to secure food for the little ones,” he lamented.

Some are surviving by selling termites to feed their families.

The villagers are now pinning their hopes on drought mitigatory interventions, which were introduced by development partners like the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which aims to support 6 000 households with subsidised stock feed and 15 000 households with subsidised small grains seeds in 11 of the worst affected districts in the country

“The stock feed has come in handy to assist the farmers to ensure their livestock are nourished. Already we are seeing a vast improvement,” Chihanga said.

Previously, over 1 500 livestock died due to lack of nourishment, but the number has dropped significantly.

A bag of stock feed, which ordinarily sells at $15, is now being sold at a subsidised price of $8.

Villagers are optimistic the interventions will guarantee them survival of their livestock, which is their livelihood.

In Lupane, which also lies in Region 4, which has scarce rains, villagers are being taught to make a living from livestock.

Implemented by Lead organisation, the four-year project has improved animal health and productivity.

At Matafeni in Lupane villagers are even growing their own stock feed.

“Our livestock will be healthier and when we sell we get a good price and will be able to feed our families and send our kids to school,”Albert Sibanda said.

Zimbabwe has over four million people who are facing severe food insecurity.

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