Blessing Rwizi Post Correspondent
CHIKUKWA community farmers in wards 10 and 11 of Chimanimani East have immensely benefited from a livestock programme initiated by the Holistic Land and Livestock Management (HLLM).
The HLLM programme was introduced by Chikukwa Ecological Land Use Community Trust (CELUCT) and TSURO Trust in 2012 to strengthen smallholder farmers’ capacity to manage and conserve their natural capital (catchment areas, grazing areas and fields) and livestock productively.
It is aimed at promoting food security, nutrition, environmental conservation, social harmony, and household incomes through a holistic approach to livestock management.
CELUCT and TSURO mobilised farmers in 2012 through the cascade approach and trained them in holistic management in order to train other villagers. A total of 58 households brought their livestock together to form a community herd with 86 cattle.
The herd has now grown to 232 cattle, currently being kept in one large 820 hectares paddock. 141 calves were born between July 2013 and April 2017.
Reports have revealed that livestock losses due to predators, theft and calf mortalities are virtually zero now since there are herders to look after the cattle all year round.
Farmers contribute $1 per animal and an additional $4 per household towards the salaries of cattle herders and vaccines for the animals.
CELUCT HLLM officer, Mr Samuel Chimbarara, said the project was well received by the community.
“The project has been going on very well and the number of cattle has multiplied at a fast rate over the past years. So far 33 stockowners from Mabasa, Kubatana, Kwaedza and Jantia villages have been registered and are effectively involved in Chikukwa holistic planned grazing.
“Animals are getting water from Nyamakaya, Chisuko and Mushenjewenzvere rivers flowing across the ranch,” he said.
Holistic grazing was introduced by Allan Savory, a biologist in Zimbabwe over 40 years ago.
It is a grazing management method based on planned rotational grazing that ‘mimics nature’ with the aim of sequestering carbon (C) and water in soils and thus increase pasture productivity. Holistic management is a framework for decision-making and a planning tool applied primarily to grazing systems.