The USAID funded Feed the Future Livestock development programme implemented by Fintrac, meant to strengthen smallholder livestock production through training and availability of technical support has tremendously improved the lives of over 3 400 farmers in Chipinge South in Manicaland province.
The beef productivity programme was started in June 2015 to run through June 2020, was confined to the drier agro-ecological regions 3, 4 and 5 of Zimbabwe to help boost beef productivity and help farmers move from subsistence to small scale commercial production.
Mr. Norman Deruko of Deruko Village in Ward 29, in Maparadze area, embraced the Feed the Future Livestock Development programme after his wife Victoria Pencil had heard about the programme from the Lower Chipinge field Officer, Mr. Alfonce Musasa, in 2016.
The couple had stayed with a small herd of ten from 2003 and their animals had not been giving them calves as frequent as they expected, due to lack of cheep and balanced feed from locally available resources, and adoption of good agronomic practices that they soon learnt from the programme.
“We used to take our animals to Mozambique in search of better grazing and also travelled long distances to water our animals,” said Mr. Deruko.
The programme empowered us to make and grow our own livestock feed from locally available naturally occuring grasses, shrubs, tree seeds, and trees pods that we have learnt to mix and feed our animals from the programme, said Mr. Deruko.
Today Mr. Deruko and his wife who is the Lead Farmer for the programme in the area have managed to grow their herd to 32 in just three years; sold part of the herd to raise funding for drilling a borehole at their homestead.
Mr. Deruko is proud that the borehole will soon allow him to produce a number of vegetables for sell in the area and continue to make a lot of money to supplement and diversify his beef income.
Speaking to the journalists at the farmers’ homestead on a media tour of the Feed the Future Livestock development programme projects in Chipinge South, the Fintrac Senior Communication Specialist, Feed the Future Zimbabwe Livestock Development Programme Mrs Emeldah Takaona said that the programme has assisted farmers to focus on productive animals that fetch more when sold on the market than keep old bulls, cows and excess oxen that deplete their incomes and compete with the productive ones for the scarce resources like feed, and drugs.
By Francis Bingandadi AgriSeason Managing Editor