Masvingo — Hundreds of communal farmers from Masvingo province are losing draught power as dozens of cattle are reportedly dying owing to lack of drinking water as well as pastures.
The Standard was told that the most affected areas were the arid districts of Chivi, Chiredzi and Mwenezi.
Masvingo provincial livestock officer, Aaron Muchazivei, confirmed the cattle deaths, but said the beasts were crossing into Masvingo province from Beitbridge in search of water.
"We have received reports about the cattle deaths in Mwenezi and Chiredzi, but Mwenezi is the most affected. The cattle that died in Mwenezi were coming from Beitbridge -- which is another province -- in search of water. So it may sound as if the cattle were from Masvingo province," Muchazivei said. He could not however, shed any more details as he was waiting for a report from the crop and livestock assessment exercise which is underway.
"It will be difficult to be specific. I do not have the details since we can only get them after the assessment," he said.
Efforts to get figures from the veterinary services department proved futile as the provincial veterinary officer, only identified as Dr Dzimwasha, refused to take questions from The Standard. But farmers said the situation was pathetic as most of them were forced to sell their beasts at low prices upon realising they were about to die of thirst.
"Most farmers are selling their cattle at give-away prices. The situation is very bad . . . cattle are moving long distances in search of water as major rivers and dams have wilted," a farmer from Chiredzi who requested anonymity said.
He said if the rains did not fall in the next fortnight, it would spell disaster.
Although other provinces have received some rains, Masvingo has not yet received significant rains as yet, a situation that has also seen boreholes drying up.