THE Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has over the years in conjunction with the Zimbabwe government undertaken numerous projects to mitigate livestock diseases and enhance productivity in the country.
Zimbabwe is currently fighting an upsurge in tick borne diseases which have claimed over 3000 cattle since late last year.
According to FAO sub regional coordinator for Southern Africa and representative to Zimbabwe Patrick Kormawa its interventions have resulted in farmers commercializing their livestock and drafting of a new livestock policy which now awaits cabinet consideration.
“FAO has always supported the government efforts to control livestock diseases and improve productivity to enhance food, nutrition and income security of the communities.
In Lupane and Nkayi districts FAO in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe and other development organizations got funding from the EU to implement a 4.5-year project (Jan 2014 – June 2018) that focused on commercialization of livestock for farmers to make a living from livestock.
Among other productivity parameters the project achieved the following outputs that have direct bearing on animal health management and disease control.
Draft livestock policy produced and is awaiting cabinet approval. The draft policy gives guidance on the development of specific sub-sector strategies that include economic diseases such as Foot Mouth Disease, New Castle Disease, Rabies and Anthrax”.
He said in 2015 the project rehabilitated 81 dip tanks in the two districts, provided dipping chemical for at least one year, procured 138 vet kits and offered training on animal production and health which has resulted in regular cattle dipping thereby reducing tick borne diseases and improved livestock quality in the district.
Consequently the improved quality of livestock in the district has attracted a number of buyers.
The project also drilled 30 new boreholes fitted with solar reticulation system supporting dip tanks, livestock watering, fodder and vegetable gardens as well as domestic household use. In addition 101 boreholes were rehabilitated to cover the extended scope of service provision.
A total of 13 Animal Health and Management Centers were fitted with solar powered cold chain facilities for vaccines and other drugs for improved animal health delivery. This has contributed to the improved quality of livestock and reduction in animal deaths due to diseases in the districts.
Kormawa said farmers should take appropriate action to protect their cattle from tick borne disease.
“Ticks are vectors that transmit protozoan parasites that cause disease to animals. Control of tick borne diseases is achieved through tick control and treatment of infected animals.
Tick populations are best controlled by dipping animals regularly with an effective dipping chemical to kill those that will be on the animals.
Effective tick control averts the occurrence of tick borne diseases.
Farmers are trained and encouraged to buy their own dipping/spraying/pour-on chemicals when-ever there is a shortage of government supplies.
This is important to note because the farmers are the ultimate losers if the animal dies due to tick borne disease. The veterinary officers are available to assist the farmers in tick control and treatment of infected animals”.