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Farmers call for ban on private cattle sales

by Staff reporter
08 Jun 2021 at 05:36hrs | Views
LIVESTOCK farmers from Matabeleland South Province have called on the Government to set a standard price for a beast and abolish private cattle sales as buyers are underpaying them for their animals.

The purpose of cattle sales is to help farmers realise profits from the sale of their animals with the highest bidder expected to offer a good price.

The mushrooming of private buyers, corrupt officials, absence of a standard price and unfair grading of cattle is disadvantaging farmers.

Farmers who spoke during a meeting with officials from the Department of Livestock under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and livestock value chain players in Gwanda on Thursday said they wanted the private cattle sales to be replaced with specialised sales where all authorities involved in the buying of livestock will be present.

They said buyers were taking advantage of the absence of a standard price for a beast to underpay them.

The farmers said at the moment buyers were dictating the prices while others were conniving to offer ridiculously low prices.

An A2 farmer from West Nicholson, Mr Ronias Tshuma said it was saddening that after rearing their cattle for several years some buyers were underpaying them knowing that farmers were selling out of desperation.

"Private cattle sales are a big problem for us as farmers and that is where most of us have been duped of our money. When a private buyer comes to buy cattle, he is the one who dictates the price of a beast. Farmers just give in because at time they are desperate for cash and as such have no choice.

"These private buyers don't have fixed dates and as such can come any time to buy. Some farmers end up selling their animals for even half of the price. Livestock farming is our livelihood and we feel very shortchanged if we are paid ridiculously low prices. It's important for a standard price to be set for a beast depending on its grade. The buyers then have to negotiate from the set price," he said.

Mr Tshuma said there was need to revert to the old system of cattle sales which were conducted by the Cold Storage Company as it was transparent.

He said all sales were announced on time and thereafter those intending to sell their animals had to register with the dip attendant using a stock card.

Mr Tshuma said this would help to ensure each person sold cattle which rightfully belonged to them.

He said all cattle sales were conducted in the presence of graders, auctioneers, dip attendants, ZRP, Department of Veterinary Services and local authority officials.

Mr Tshuma said all transactions were transparent and conducted in the presence of all the stakeholders.

He said buyers were organised by auctioneers so that they could come in numbers.

Mr Thabani Sibanda, an A2 farmer from Mkashi area in Gwanda, said livestock farmers needed to be protected from unscrupulous buyers.

"The issue of setting a floor price for a beast has to be treated as a matter of urgency. Sometimes buyers even at public auctions connive and agree to offer to buy cattle at low prices and eventually we sell our animals for a song. The buyers go on to sell the beasts at a high price and they make a killing.

"At times as farmers, we are discouraged from selling at public auctions as our animals are not being graded fairly. They are not being weighed due to absence of scales and weights are just estimated," he said.

Mr Sibanda said the price of cattle had to be set in foreign currency as farmers were incurring costs in foreign currency to sustain their animals such as buying stock feed.

Speaking during the same meeting acting chief meat and livestock grader in the Department of Livestock under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Mr Kasimiro Nyamande said cattle sales should be transparent and must benefit every player within the livestock value chain.

He said authorities involved in the livestock selling who comprised local authorities, ZRP, Department of Veterinary Services, graders and auctioneers had to safeguard the interests of farmers.

Mr Nyamande some authorities have been fingered in cases of conniving with private buyers to shortchange farmers.

"As stakeholders of cattle sales can we all try to help the farmers so that they are paid the correct prices for their animals. When farmers are paid ridiculously low prices we are killing the national herd and compromising one of the country's major source of income s well as killing the GDP of Matabeleland South which is a cattle province," he said.

Matabeleland South acting provincial Agritex officer, Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said farmers have a huge role to play in the Government's agricultural recovery plan and as such have to take farming as a business. He said there was need for a formalised marketing system through set floor prices to guide the market.

Source - chronicle
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