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|Title:||Perceptions of Farmers on Drought Preparedness and Cattle Management Strategies in Matobo District, Matabeleland South Province|
|Publisher:||Lupane State University|
|Abstract:||Matobo district has witnessed numerous drought related challenges in the cattle production sector for several years. The dry conditions that persist in the district impact negatively on cattle farmers. Most communal farmers in Matobo district lack capacity to deal with drought situations and do not have ideal drought mitigation strategies in place. The persistent droughts in the district have resulted in negative economic, social and devastating environmental impacts. A study was conducted in two wards (Manyane and Zamanyoni) in Matobo district which were perceived to be cattle farming areas because of the large number of cattle farmers. A total of forty communal farmers from nine villages of the two wards were randomly selected and interviewed using a questionnaire. An additional ten key informants interviewees were selected. The study sought to establish the preparedness of farmers and the existent management strategies in dealing with drought situations within the district. The impact of drought on cattle production and its extent was assessed amongst the respondents. The various drought mitigation strategies employed by different cattle farmers in their production activities were assessed as a way of ascertaining the level of preparedness against drought. The study further sought to identify the limitations faced by the cattle producers in drought mitigation. During the course of the research, the study identified a variety of lessons that had already been learnt by the farmers on drought, effects and the resultant mitigation strategies to adopt. The research found out that farmers are losing a lot of cattle due to drought since most farmers lack the capacity to adequately cope with the drought situations. Some farmers in the district could recognize the early warning systems for drought and take precautionary measures yet others relaxed without taking action. Many cattle farmers who responded highlighted that the most unfortunate incident were during drought periods that affected both cattle and humans. Since both grazing and human food become scarce, it made the situation difficult for man to handle drought pressure. In the results of the study, revealed that droughts lead to loss of cattle body condition, surfacing of unscrupulous buyers, fall of saleable stock, poor productivity and loss of production among others. A number of cattle farmers highlighted that high cattle mortalities, straying of animals and theft were among the major problems and farmers ended up resorting to moving their cattle to better grazing areas. Most cattle farmers have developed various drought mitigation strategies that include providing supplementary feeds, practicing temporary cattle movements to less drought areas, feedlotting, culling of old and non-productive cattle in order to buy cattle feed, dosing, vaccination and strategic dipping among others. The farmers have also adopted the use of improved stover storage methods which include use of traditionally raised platforms, storage above trees and use of improved raised and roofed platforms. Lack of finance, shortages of supplementary feeding during critical times of demand, lack of adequate paddocking systems, long distances travelled by cattle to water sources and prevalence of internal parasites were cited among the limitations to solve drought challenges.|
|Appears in Collections:||Department of Animal and Rangeland Management|
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