Harare, Zimbabwe — The Department of Veterinary Services has deplored the continued burning of pastures, especially in cattle ranching areas, saying this is threatening the rebuilding of the national herd.
The department’s principal director, Dr Stuart Hargreaves, yesterday said nutrition was an important component in livestock production and the destruction of pastures by veld fires was severely impacting on the programme.
“The current outbreaks of veld fires is negating efforts aimed at improving the quality of cattle in the country,” he said.
“There is a continued destruction of pastures, bio-diversity and the overall destruction of the environment due to uncontrolled fires in most parts of the country.”
According to statistics released by the Environmental Management Agency, Matabeleland South last month recorded the highest number of hectares destroyed by veld fires.
The area is ideal for cattle ranching.
Dr Hargreaves also said his department was working towards improving the nutrition of cattle to boost the quality of cattle.
However, he noted that efforts by the department were being hampered by the continued destruction of pastures.
“The livestock development sector is facing a major challenge of veld fire outbreaks, which are destroying pastures and this is negating all the efforts aimed at rebuilding the national herd,” he said.
The department has also started working with various farmers in educating them on the need to prepare adequate fireguards but the concept was not being takenseriously.
“While efforts have been made in educating people in farming communities on the dangers of veld fires, we have seen a considerable increase in the outbreaks and I think the onus now lies on the farmers to be proactive in preventing the damage because at the end of the day it’s the cattle that suffer while the perpetrators go scot free,” he said.
Veld fires do not only destroy the environment and bio-diversity but impact negatively on economic development especially in the tourism and livestock development sectors.
Veld fires have also caused problems for most of the resettled farmers who cannot afford stock feed and rely on pastures.