Farmers heed Government call on smart farming

The Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
LIVESTOCK farmers are taking Government’s call to increase the national herd by adopting smart farming practices such as stud breeding, artificial insemination and intensive fodder production.

Government, through the Agricultural Rural Development and Advisory Services (ARDAS), formerly Agritex, has also rolled out various programmes to capacitate livestock farmers in adopting livestock farming business models.


Speaking recently during a livestock field day at Mr Obert Chinhamo’s Biano Farm in Umzingwane District, farmers expressed their commitment towards developing the livestock sector.

The field day was held to inspire farmers to maximise production on their portions of land as well as adopt smart strategies that can improve the quality and quantity of their herds.

Mr Obert Chinhamo who is a stud breeder has 320 animals on 80 hectares of land. He practices silage production, pen fattening, mechanised fodder production, oats production which has helped boost his herd.

Mr Chinhamo also bails grass around his area for stockfeed.

Mr Obert Chinhamo

Gwanda farmer, Mr Rabson Tlou said the field day opened his eyes to methods of improving his herd.

“As farmers we have realised that gone are the days of just keeping simple breeds in our farms. Instead of focusing on quantities we now have to focus on quality. The question I should be asking myself is how much money each beast can fetch me? I felt inspired looking at how Mr Chinhamo has managed to keep such a large herd on a small portion of land which is just 80 hectares,” he said.

Gwanda-based farmer Mr Thulani Dube said the field day had helped him realise that he can breed quality animals without having to part with a lot of money to sustain his herd. He said field days are crucial as they help to capacitate and inspire farmers.

Mr Dube said the knowledge they were getting from extension officers is helping them to improve on production as farmers.

“I like how Mr Chinhamo preserves his maize crop residue after harvesting and then processes it in silage pit to prepare nutritious feed for his animals. This lowers his cost of production. He chooses to grow most of the food he feeds his animals. He also bails hay around the farm. As a new farmer, I have realised that every piece of land I have is valuable and it can help to enhance my production,” he said.

Bubi farmer, Ms Margaret Moyo said as a livestock farmer from Matabeleland Region she understood the role she has to play in growing the national herd and developing the livestock sector. She said the field day had opened her eyes in silage making and fodder production.

Ms Moyo said she had also learnt of the good qualities of the simmental breed.

“I learnt that simmental breeds adapt well to the environment and they can do well in our country. I also learnt that simmentals are dual purpose animals as they provide milk and meat. Simmentals also grow to be big and have a big carcass which make them ideal for breeding. I have also noted that as farmers we have to practice artificial insemination in order to improve the quality of our herds,” she said.

Speaking during the field day Agricultural Rural Development and Advisory Services (ARDAS) chief director, Professor Obert Jiri urged livestock farmers from Matabeleland region to maximise production on their pieces of land and increase their herds to get the Cold Storage Company (CSC) and Dairiboard plant in Bulawayo operational.

Agricultural Rural Development and Advisory Services (ARDAS) chief director, Professor Obert Jiri

He said the country has 5,5 million cattle out of a target of nine million. Prof Jiri said in order to meet this target, Matabeleland region has a huge role to play as a cattle area.

“At Mr Chinhamo’s place we have seen very good breeding and very good integrated farming system which is a complete value chain approach. He does silage production, artificial insemination among other activities.

There is money in this type of farming. Such activities help to grow the economy of Matabeleland South province. Here we are seeing productivity at play,” he said.

Government has rolled out eight programmes under the rural development 8.0 programme which include tick grease programme, Pfumvudza/ Intwasa programme, Pfumvudza cotton, Presidential rural development programme which is targeting drilling of boreholes in each of the 25 000 villages, Presidential poultry programme, Presidential goat programme, fisheries programme and the Vision 2030 accelerator programme.


Prof Jiri urged farmers to utilise these projects and work hard to ensure their success.

Fodder production has been identified as one of the major ways to boost the national herd.

President Mnangagwa launched the Presidential Livestock Scheme as part of efforts to grow the livestock sub-sector. Under the scheme, farmers are receiving legume seeds, fertilisers and forage sorghum among other inputs. Distribution of the inputs is set to boost creation of forage banks for improved animal nutrition.

Priority is being given to the hardest hit southern drier areas with the highest cattle drought-related deaths.

The scheme falls under the Livestock Growth Plan, which is part of the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy that is expected to turn agriculture into an US$8,2 billion industry by 2025 and contribute towards the achievement of Vision 2030. — @DubeMatutu

Article Source: The Chronicle

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