Issues and concerns in pro poor community based cattle breeding program in Bulilimamangwe district of Zimbabwe.
Cattle rearing plays a crucial role in the semi arid communal areas of Zimbabwe, as a result any developmental strategy that is aimed at improving household livelihood in these areas should target cattle production. The objective of the study was to assess the impact of introducing improved indigenous cattle beef breeds in Bulilima District of Matabeleland South in Zimbabwe. The study was carried out in Masendu ward comprising of six villages of Luvuluma, Mambo, Tjeboroma, Makumbi, Thandawani and Muke. A random sample of 13 livestock farmers were selected from participants of the Kellogg Foundation communal areas indigenous cattle (Tuli, Afrikaner and Nguni) improvement program through a donation of improved indigenous beef cattle bulls. Semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect data on household demographics, socioeconomic factors, herd structure, management practices and constraints in cattle breeding program. Qualitative data were coded and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 2008) computer software in order to generate descriptive statistics such as means and frequencies or percentages. The study revealed an interesting scenario on household demographics; the majority of the farmers had formal education, with only 7.7% not having attained any formal education. As a result of Kellogg Foundation bull donations some farmers (15.4%) increased their herd size to more than 30 cattle which improved their social status in the areas. Farmers interviewed showed that they were motivated to keep improved breeds with least more than half of the farmers reporting that the bulls to a certain extent increased the number of cows serviced within the community herds. Poor animal condition was reported in cattle herds due to the inadequate supply of both water and nutrition, the latter being caused by lack of good grazing. It was noted that government support was necessary in infrastructure development in order to improve community based cattle breeding programs. The need to organise market to encourage smallholder farmers to sell their animals was also cited. There was a belief that better prices were achievable at local markets if the communal herd was genetically improved for important economic traits. Therefore, the key conclusion was that communal farmers had a positive perception on improving the communal cattle herds. This warranted a multi¬sectoral approach to address different challenges that militate against high cattle productivity in communal areas.