Cattle in Zimbabwe
Cattle farming remains one of the most profitable ventures in Zimbabwean agriculture and is viable around the country as demand for beef continues to rise. Both larger commercial farms and communal farms contribute to national beef production and high monetary value is placed on cattle across Zimbabwe. However, not only is farming cattle a lucrative enterprise, culturally, cattle hold a symbolic significance.
Traditionally, cows are kept as symbols of wealth, they may be used to pay lobola (the bride price) or taken as fines for infidelity. Retaining cattle is in some households seen as a priority over selling them in favour of paying for their children’s education and slaughter tends therefore to be reserved for important celebrations, such as weddings, elders’ funerals and traditional ceremonies.
The Market Development component of the DFID-funded Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) has worked with farmers in three districts in the provinces of Manicaland and Midlands to facilitate wider and better use of pen fattening farming techniques. The initiative was not simply about encouraging farmers to sell their cattle on but also to make the most of this opportunity – fattened cattle produced through pen fattening are able to fetch prices far superior to those that are not as well-nourished and underweight.
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