Agriculture experts have urged the government and local farmers to embrace smart technology to address the challenges bedevilling the livestock sector.
Zimbabwe’s livestock sector is positioned to take a key role in the current national inclusive transformation agenda towards attainment of the Agenda 2030.
About 90% of the national herd is held by the small holder communal sector.
Yet growth of the sector is currently being stifled by high prevalence of a variety of livestock diseases such as theileriosis.
The presence of these diseases and the perceived risk from the emerging diseases that have potential to decimate the sector have become a major stumbling block for entry into local, regional and international markets.
Global Renaissance Investment CEO Ngoni Dzirutwe said technology provides farmers with smart solutions to enhance their operations across the health and welfare of their animals.
“Animal trackers, such as those used on cows, have developed considerably, enabling farmers to access detailed data from their mobile phones to track animals, diseases and improve welfare,” Dzirutwe said.
“Recording herd health is now more manageable and detailed through trackers and drones.
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“Unusual or slow movements in cattle can indicate illness.
“Additionally, the technology enables farmers to easily record health management events, such as vaccinations or diseases, for each individual animal using their mobile phones.
“When combined with location technology, it enables farmers and veterinarians to monitor disease and act more quickly to any outbreaks.”
Dzirutwe noted that new mobile near-infrared devices are also enabling farmers to better monitor exactly what is in their feed and troubleshoot nutritional deficiencies early.
“The devices scan samples of the feed and send the nutritional information directly to the farmer’s mobile phone, giving them access to nutritional information in real time,” he said.
“These devices provide a more dynamic way of controlling feed quality than traditional methods, which often require the farmer to send samples to be tested in a lab, an expensive and lengthy exercise.
“These new capabilities give farmers better control of their feed to confidently rear healthy animals, and predict production and profitability for their farms.”
Zimbabwe recently launched its first-ever Boran Quarantine Station to boost livestock genetics in the country and increase the national herd to 5.5 million by 2025.
“According to the livestock recovery plan, we intend to target four facets of our livestock subspace so that the livestock subspace can contribute significantly to the US$8,2 billion agricultural economy by the year 2025,” said Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development permanent secretary John Basera.
“The livestock sub-sector is supposed to contribute about 25 to 35%. Issues around genetic improvement are of critical importance. Issues around animal health and averting poverty are also of critical importance due to the provision of animal feed.”
Meanwhile, GRI will from December 8 to 10 hold a Smart Farming Indaba in Victoria Falls to determine the country’s readiness to adopt smart technology in the agriculture sector.
The conference, running under the theme “Smart farming and value addition to be a breadbasket again in line with NDS1,” has several high-ranking speakers including Agricultural minister Anxious Masuka, Zimbabwe Farmers Union executive director Paul Zakaria, Indian ambassador to Zimbabwe Vijay Khanduja and African Development Bank ambassador Judith Kateerra among others.