Fight against tick-borne disease intensifies

Dr Basera

All dip tanks have an adequate supply of tick-killing chemicals, so farmers must bring their cattle for dipping as the fight against January disease and other tick-borne diseases intensifies.

There is great improvement in livestock sector with the sharp drop in cattle deaths attributed to dipping, vaccines, dip tank rehabilitation and the Presidential Tick Grease programme, .

Speaking during the handover ceremony of 1 000 bicycles to dip attendants at Chinyabowa dip tank in Zvimba district, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Permanent Secretary Dr John Basera urged farmers to intensify dipping.

The national herd should be scaled up to 8 million by 2025.

While the country is predicted to receive below normal rainfall, efforts to scale up livestock and crop production should not be affected.

“We should encourage our neighbours to bring their cattle for dipping because if they do not their animals which will not have dipped will spread the infected ticks to the animals which would have dipped,” said Dr Basera.

“Let us also continue using tick grease that we are given under Presidential Blitz tick grease distribution scheme. We should also target growth in livestock and crops in this season because we can climate proof our agriculture and ensuring that our livestock is healthy.”

Government has also launched the ticks and tick-borne disease control strategy for the prevention and control of tick-borne diseases and already begun implementing it.

Farmers should be vigilant in the control of animal movements as this is the main driver of disease spread.

In the same ministry, chief director of Veterinary Services Department Dr Josphat Nyika said farmers should be penalised for failing to bring their cattle for dipping.

The blitz tick-grease programme under the Presidential input scheme, has been running for the past two seasons as a back-up to conventional dipping and has been a game-changer in the fight against January disease.

The programme will continue this season.

Over the past two agricultural seasons, the combination of the dipping programme and the tick grease produced great results, with a 47 percent reduction in tick-borne cattle deaths recorded 2021 when compared to 2020.

The livestock growth plan is part of the agriculture food systems transformation strategy which seeks to achieve an US$8,2 billion agriculture economy by 2025 to ensure the attainment of Vision 2030. During the wet season, animals are susceptible to many challenges, and if a farmer is not careful, they may be killed by various diseases including tick-borne diseases.

January Disease is common between December and March and is spread through the bite of an infected brown ear-tick.

Statistics from the department show that over 500 000 cattle succumbed to tick borne diseases from 2016 to date leading to the decline of the national herd which currently stands at five million.

Government has also manufactured the tick-borne disease vaccines which is expected to save and boost livestock production in the country. The move will help to contain tick-borne diseases that have depleted the national herd.

Dr Nyika said dip tank construction and rehabilitation and intensive dipping are also crucial in curbing tick borne diseases.

Zvimba West Member of Parliament Mrs Mercy Dinha said Government’s capacitation of extension workers was a great sign which showed commitment towards its workers.

She said the bicycles given to the extension workers will enable efficiency and mobility of the workers so that they achieve targeted goals.

“This is a great move that will enable extension workers to carry their duties efficiently. We are proud to see our workers being motivated like this,” she said.

Mashonaland West chief animal health inspector Mr Thomson Sabashau indicated that most farmers in the province did not dip cattle for various reasons.

“We have a big challenge here because our farmers do not bring all cattle for dipping adding that awareness need to be scaled up to ensure that we eradicate January disease,” he said.

Farmers in Chinyabowa were positive that this season January disease will be totally eradicated following Government’s initiative to construct more dip tanks.

Mrs Primrose Maninga of ward 27 in Chinyabowa said they were grateful to have a nearby diptank which is operational.

“Our dip is in our village so we make sure that we always dip our cattle. We used to travel long distance to get to Jari area where they were diptanks. We are proud of our Government. This is well appreciated,” she said.

Mr Taurai Mapfiko of the same area indicated that there is a need to work together and ensure that dipping becomes a norm and failure to do that should attract punishment

“We lost thousands of cattle here so we can not continue loosing our wealth because of failure to do what is required,” he said.

Annual cattle mortality rates have also been reduced from 12 percent to 6 percent this year.


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