El Nino-farmers suffer huge discounts on livestock

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Business, Local News, Wheather | 0 comments

El Nino-farmers suffer huge discounts on livestock

Staff Reporter

The effects of El Niño drought are tightening their grip on Zimbabwe’s rural communities, forcing desperate farmers to sell off their prized livestock – primarily goats and cattle– to abattoirs, butcheries and middlemen at heavily discounted prices.

El Niño, a phenomenon, characterised by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Pacific, disrupts rainfall patterns and often leading to drier conditions–has triggered drought fears in Zimbabwe and southern Africa, threatening food prices and inflation.

Livestock are vital sources of income for rural households in Zimbabwe and critical for their sustenance.

Several peasant farmers in Sanyati District in Mashonaland West Province, Gokwe North and South in the Midlands Province told The the press that they were offloading their cattle, goats and sheep for a fraction of their usual value, as farmers seek to buy food to feed their families.

According to the farmers, abattoirs, private butcheries and middlemen are capitalising on the desperate situation, offering prices significantly lower than what farmers would typically receive during normal seasons.

For instance, cattle, which normally fetch between US$300 and US$500, are now being sold for US$150 to US$200.

Similarly, the price of goats has plummeted from US$35-40 in normal seasons to a meagre US$12 to US$15.

In a bid to bypass the exploitative middlemen, some farmers are aggregating their livestock to sell directly to the final buyers. However, their net earnings are significantly eroded when transportation costs are factored in.

Some buyers are bartering for livestock, offering mealie-meal or grain maize instead of cash. For instance, they are offering a 10kg pack of maize meal or three gallons of grain maize in exchange for a goat.

Adding to their woes, the drought has delivered a double blow by devastating the cotton crop. Traditionally, these communities rely on proceeds from cotton sales to buy food, particularly maize, which rarely thrives due to the dry conditions.

With the cotton harvest almost likely to fail due to El Nino induced drought, farmers have lost their critical source of income, further exacerbating their dependence on selling their livestock at deeply discounted prices.

The mass destocking, while necessary for short-term survival, could have long-term consequences for rural livelihoods.