Midlands Provincial Public Service inspector, Mr. Andrew Chimanyiwa, on Sunday lost 20 head of cattle after they were struck by lightning at his farm in Gwenhoro outside Gweru. This, officials have said, brings to around 50 the number of cattle killed by lightning in the province since the beginning of this month.
As another drought ravages Zimbabwe, farmers in livestock-rich Matabeleland, in the country’s west, are again counting their losses as animals die from thirst and lack of food. Zimbabwean farmers, hit by more frequent droughts as climate change takes hold, have made efforts to change livestock practices to better cope with dry times – but not all of the new adaptation strategies are holding up, they say.
Musindo Dangaiso trudges through his cattle kraal. Grass and weeds grow rampant in the enclosure where he once kept 24 cows. A disease came on suddenly: bloody noses, followed by tears. Dangaiso tried to administer medicine, but it was too late. Seven days later, all the cows but one – a calf – were dead.
Manicaland is expected to record a decrease in the volume of cotton this year following a poor season where the quality and weight of the crop was affected by the drought which hit the province. Despite the effects of drought, the cotton has also been affected by frost as the bolls are failing to split, making it difficult to produce the 5 000 tonnes targeted this season.
Smallholder farmers here are concerned with intermittent power cuts and high electricity bills they owe the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), which is likely to affect both the winter wheat and maize crops. The farmers said that they have started counting their losses as their crops are now wilting due to lack of irrigation water.
Farmers in Matabeleland South have been gripped by panic after 4000 cattle have died due to drought. According to provincial livestock experts, the drought is likely to wipe out almost half of the herd in the province. The province holds about 700 000 cattle. The most affected areas, according to officials, include Gwanda, Beitbridge, Matobo, Bulilima and Mangwe districts.
At least 1 800 cattle have succumbed to drought in Matabeleland South Province with Gwanda and Beitbridge being the hardest hit districts so far. A crop and livestock assessment that is being carried out in Matabeleland South indicates that erratic rains experienced in some parts of the districts have impacted negatively on the 2018 /2019 agricultural season.
Villagers in Nyandoro area in Marondera Rural District Council were left counting their loss after their crops and homes were destroyed by a hailstorm which hit the area last week. The harsh weather conditions currently being witnessed across the country continue to wreak havoc after it destroyed crops and livestock in 4 villages under Chief Nyandoro.
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