The livestock population has fallen by nearly 40 000 beasts since last year, the Department of Livestock Production and Veterinary Services has said. Addressing delegates attending a workshop on livestock production organised by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society, the department's principal livestock officer Mr Passmore Nyamadzawo emphasised the need for restocking to ensure food security as spelt out in the Food Security and Nutrition Cluster of Zim-Asset.
The workshop brought together stakeholders in livestock production and was the first of its kind.
"The unpredictable weather patterns being experienced in the region leave livestock as the way to go due to its resilience and potential for growth," he said. "However, there are numerous challenges and opportunities in the development of the livestock sector in Zimbabwe."
Mr Nyamadzawo said there was need to take livestock farming as a business. "There is, therefore, a need to have a shift of mind in the way the livestock industry is operating," he said. "The thrust of Food Security and Nutrition cluster is to create a self-sufficient and food surplus economy and see Zimbabwe re-emerge as the bread basket of Southern Africa."
Added Mr Nyamadzawo: "Cattle population decreased marginally by 0.69 percent from 5 528 242 in 2016 to 5 489 720 in 2017.
"The national herd building exercise will enable families to increase household food, income and nutrition security through commercialisation of an integrated and sustainable smallholder livestock sector as enunciated by Zim-Asset."
Mr Nyamadzawo said livestock, particularly cattle, were an integral part of the smallholder farming system in Zimbabwe and were important for provision of cash, draught power, meat, manure and milk. He said although livestock production was central to smallholder farmers' activities, most of the communal herd was now comprised of small cattle breeds with low weights.