Zimplats partners Zas on artificial insemination

HARARE - Zimbabwe's largest platinum miner, Zimplats, has partnered with the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society on an ambitious artificial insemination programme to boost the country’s national cattle herd.

Artificial insemination is the process of collecting sperm cells from a male animal and artificially depositing them into the reproductive tract of a female.

The process allows the germplasm from species of superior quality to be effectively utilised.

This was after Zas recently up-scaled its livestock revitalisation programme exhibited at the annual Harare Agricultural Show which is then used for artificial insemination of indigenous breeds to improve genetics.

Last year, some 6 000 straws were drawn and will be used for the initial project.

Zas spokesperson Roberta Katunga said the society is launching the livestock programme under the theme “Shared Value: Improving and Sustaining Livelihoods” on February 16, 2018 in Matabeleland South, Insiza District.

“The initial phase of the programme is targeted at Mat South and Mat North which are the cattle hubs in the country, and this is where government intends to launch its Command Livestock programme.

“The launch by Zas is a way of complementing government efforts in agricultural development as spelt out in our recently amended constitution,” she said.

The government last year set a target of five percent growth in the national cattle herd, from the current figure of 5,5 million to 5,8 million in a move aimed at addressing restocking challenges.

The country, which lost thousands of cattle in the past five years following consecutive droughts, has been struggling to restock due to the country’s precarious financial situation.

Deputy Agriculture minister responsible for Livestock, Davis Marapira recently said government is working with the private sector in financing the livestock breeding programme.

“Government is not happy with the runaway drop in our livestock population especially cattle. The private sector, especially those companies that run abattoirs that slaughter cattle every day for commercial purposes should partner government in the re-stocking programme because they will also be affected if the cattle population continues to drop, he said.

Zimbabwe wants to restore its status as a major beef producer and exporter by helping cattle farmers in both communal and resettlement areas to improve the quality and size of their herd.

This would also result in the revival of fortunes of the Cold Storage Company whose once thriving plants in cities such as Bulawayo, Marondera and Masvingo are now mothballed owing to a dip in the country’s cattle population over the past decade and half.

Agriculture experts say the relative potential of artificial insemination has remained generally unexploited and is mainly used for exploratory purposes by research institutions.

A few African countries including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Botswana, Malawi, Senegal, Mali and Sudan have taken the technology to the field, but mostly to upgrade indigenous stock and to enable a limited number of commercial farmers to keep “exotic” dairy cattle breeds. — The Financial Gazette

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