Chipinge cat­tle farm­ers de­velop pas­tures

The Manica Post - - Local News - Sa­muel Kadun­gure Se­nior Re­porter

THE Chipinge Live­stock Devel­op­ment Trust has em­barked on an ini­tia­tive to as­sist at least 2 000 farm­ers in graz­ing stressed ar­eas to de­velop pas­tures to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity beyond nat­u­ral lev­els.

CLDT is also in­volved in hay pro­duc­tion and has so far dis­trib­uted more than 5 000 litres of mo­lasses — from Hippo Val­ley — which farm­ers are mix­ing with stovers to boost small­holder live­stock pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity which is of­ten un­der threat from pro­longed dry pe­ri­ods.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is also ne­go­ti­at­ing with Green Fuel for ad­di­tional mo­lasses and cane tops to give to more farm­ers.

CLDT spokesper­son, Mr Joseph Mutsvaidzwa, yes­ter­day, said the belt stretch­ing from Birchenough Bridge to Ma­henye, has de­pleted pas­tures to sus­tain live­stock, hence the move to re­plen­ish com­mu­nal pas­tures.

“We are start­ing off with 2 000 farm­ers in those ar­eas that were se­verely af­fected by drought in 2016 as well as pests and dis­eases. We are as­sist­ing farm­ers with the knowl­edge to plant fod­der and con­ser­va­tion of ex­ist­ing pas­tures.

“We are also dis­tribut­ing mo­lasses so that farm­ers can mix it with stovers to im­prove the crude pro­tein lev­els. We in­tend to in­crease the pace and num­bers once a deal has been agreed on with Green Fu­els for sup­ply of mo­lasses and cane tops,” said Mr Mutsvaidzwa.

Chipinge is Man­i­ca­land’s hub of live­stock pro­duc­tion where an es­ti­mated herd of 50 000 died last year due to a com­bi­na­tion of feed and wa­ter short­ages, as well as ex­po­sure to dis­eases like foot and mouth and an­thrax.

Mr Mutsvaidzwa said they were also help­ing farm­ers to im­prove an­i­mal ge­net­ics, dis­ease con­trol, fer­til­ity and the calv­ing rate to un­lock value out of an­i­mal hus­bandry.

Coop­ers Busi­ness Devel­op­ment man­ager, Pro­fes­sor Joseph Ka­muzhanje, said veld qual­ity and avail­abil­ity was highly vari­able in com­mu­nal ar­eas with crude pro­tein drop­ping be­low to five per­cent in dry ma­ture grasses and stovers.

Prof Ka­muzhanje said fea­si­ble means by which com­mu­nal pro­duc­tiv­ity could im­prove was by re­in­forc­ing pas­tures with legumes and bet­ter yield­ing grass species.

There are grass species with crude pro­tein of 15 per­cent and a yield of 50 tonnes per hectare which can be in­tro­duced in com­mu­nal ar­eas.

“Small­holder live­stock farm­ers have not reached the level of mech­a­ni­sa­tion to do on farm feed­ing and nat­u­ral graz­ing is the cheap­est and their most im­por­tant source of live­stock feed.

“In the past, we used to have prop­erly des­ig­nated graz­ing ar­eas, but a com­bi­na­tion of set­tle­ment by peo­ple and ex­pan­sion of fields in those ar­eas, re­duc­tion in rain­fall and short­age of wa­ter has seen the graz­ing de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, over­grazed and what­ever is left is no longer nutri­tious,” said Prof Ka­muzhanje.

Prof Ka­muzhanje said the most prom­i­nent con­straints in small-scale live­stock farm­ing in­clude dis­ease and pest con­trol and the quan­tity and qual­ity of feed of­fered to the an­i­mals.

“An­i­mals no longer have the same graz­ing area per an­i­mals as was the case in the past and this ex­plains their poor body con­di­tion. We need re-plan­ning and re-or­gan­i­sa­tion of com­mu­nal ar­eas in terms of des­ig­nated graz­ing ar­eas and avail­abil­ity of wa­ter so that high yield­ing grass species that re­quire less care can be planted,” he added.

Prof Ka­muzhanje also said small­holder farm­ers should de­velop tech­nol­ogy to de­velop the nu­tri­tional value of read­ily avail­able farm by-prod­ucts such as maize, mil­let and sorghum stovers.

“Com­mu­nal farm­ers can im­prove the nu­tri­tive value of maize stovers and straws by mix­ing the with urea so­lu­tion. The stovers have low nu­tri­tional value (about 6 per­cent pro­tein) if fed as they are, but can be im­proved in qual­ity and di­gestibil­ity by treat­ing them with a three-week fer­men­ta­tion pe­riod us­ing a urea-wa­ter so­lu­tion.

“The crude pro­tein con­tent of stovers and straws in­creases when treated with urea. There is in­creased dry mat­ter in­take, live weight gain and high milk pro­duc­tion from urea-treated stovers and straws com­pared to un­treated ma­te­rial that small­holder farm­ers are ac­cus­tomed to,” said Prof Ka­muzhanje.

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