A few weeks ago we learnt that cattle were dying at an unprecedented rate in parts of Matabeleland due to the effects of the 2018-19 drought. Over the following weeks, we learnt that this was a national problem as reports of cattle dying everywhere filtered in.

Well, it seems Buhera District is the latest area to be affected but its case is a bit unique. While the area is known for being a semi-arid marginal area which doesn’t receive much rainfall, the cattle deaths, in this case, are not due to drought, but due to January disease.

According to the local veterinary officer, Dr Samson Chiduku, this is all due to chemical shortages. These shortages have seen cattle not being dipped regularly as is required to prevent the spread of tick-borne diseases.

We are failing to provide enough dipping chemicals to villagers and we have abandoned the routine schedule of dipping cattle weekly in summer and fortnightly in winter and autumn.

We are dipping at least once in two months. While we encourage the farmers to buy their own dip chemicals, the harsh economic situation in the district is making it impossible for people to afford dip chemicals.

Dr Chiduku on the issue

According to reports over 4000 cattle East Coast Fever. These deaths have resulted in losses of over $1.5 million ZWL. Another effect has been that prices of beef have gone up in supermarkets.