THE Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS), in partnership with Zimplats, has launched a livestock production programme dubbed Mining-Agriculture Interface, to improve rural livelihoods in light of challenges posed by climate change.
ZAS programmes and public affairs officer Roberta Katunga said as part of its involvement in the Mining-Agriculture Interface, ZAS had scaled up its livestock revitalisation programme which involves the drawing of semen from bulls exhibited at the annual Harare Agricultural Show for artificial insemination on indigenous breeds to improve genetics.
“Last year, some 6 000 straws were drawn and will be used for the initial project. Zimplats has agreed to partner ZAS to make this a national programme. We are, therefore, launching the livestock programme under the theme Shared Value: Improving and Sustaining Livelihoods on February 16, 2018 in Matabeleland South, Insiza district,” he said.
“A member of the presidium is expected to be the guest of honour at the launch. The initial phase of the programme is targeted at Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North which are the cattle hubs in the country, and this is where the government intends to launch its command livestock programme. The launch by ZAS is a way of complementing government efforts in agricultural development as spelt out in our recently amended Constitution.”
The ZAS guideline paper states that following national consensus on the need to revitalise communal livestock production to improve livelihoods and mitigate climate change, Zimplats partnered ZAS with support from the Mines and Lands, Agriculture and Rural Settlement ministries in the rural capacity building programme.
“The programme will entail the creation of livestock incubation centres in Mhondoro, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South, where training in sustainable livestock rearing and crop production will be undertaken. The first phase will target inseminating 6 000 semen straws into a livestock population of 3 600. This should potentially produce 1 800 bulls and 1 800 heifers,” the guideline paper reads.
“The second phase will increase the total semen straws to 16 000. Once successfully running, the programme is expected to be self-sustaining in the long-term. Artificial insemination has to be carefully conducted to be successful. Therefore, it should be conducted clinically and procedurally. It is invariably cheaper, cost-effective and more efficient than conventional bull-based breeding programmes. In order to make the programme a success, the components of training and communication promotion are critical.”