Rangelands management key to improving pastures availability


Bulawayo (New Ziana)- Rangelands management systems are key to improving availability of pasture in communities to last longer during the dryer periods of the year, a government official said.

Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matabeleland South, Latiso Dhlamini-Maseko said this on Monday while addressing a workshop on rangeland management under the European Union (EU) funded Enhanced Resilience for Vulnerable Households in Zimbabwe (ERVHIZ) project.

The project is implemented by the government with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other partners.

FAO has pledged to assist farmers in Matabeleland South province in managing rangeland degradation, as part of efforts to improve animal nutrition.

Rangelands are grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts that are grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals. Types of rangelands include tallgrass and shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands and shrublands, woodlands, savannas, chaparrals, steppes, and tundras.

Rangeland degradation is a decrease in plant species diversity, vegetation cover and plant productivity.

“Livestock production is an important source of livelihoods, and it also contributes significantly to the inclusive growth of the agriculture sector, economy, and food security in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1),” Dhlamini-Maseko said.

“Rangelands management systems are therefore key to improve pastures availability in the communities. Livestock production, in all its forms is an integral part of the lives of the majority of the Matabeleland South population,” she said.

Transformation of the livestock sector is anchored on three main pillars namely animal health, genetics and nutrition under the Ministry’s Livestock Recovery and Growth Plan.

Dhlamini-Maseko said the ERVHIZ project is crucial in achieving the NDS1 and realization of Vision 2030.

“We thank our partners for this initiative, and we hope when the project comes to an end, a difference will be made in terms of managing the rangeland,” she said.

Speaking at the same occasion, resilience specialist Alexander Carr said rangelands play a crucial role in supporting the livelihoods of pastoral communities, providing grazing land for livestock.

“Rangeland productivity has declined leading to reduced carrying capacity for livestock. They should be preserved,” he said.

“This may include practices such as rotational grazing, improved water management as well as the use of alternative sources of livelihoods to reduce pressure on rangeland resources.”

He said the government could help to create an enabling environment for sustainable rangeland management and ensure that policies and regulations are in place to support rangeland conservation.

Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns have altered the distribution and abundance of plant and animal species, leading to changes in ecosystem dynamics, he explained.

New Ziana

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