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Feed resources for small-scale livestock producers in Zimbabwe

J.N. Clatworthy

Grasslands Research Station, Marondera, Zimbabwe


Abstract
Introduction
Geographical distribution of small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe
Livestock holdings
Arable cropping
Natural grassland or veld
The way ahead
References


Abstract

Small-scale livestock producers in Zimbabwe include both small-scale commercial and communal land farmers. The latter, in particular, occupy a large proportion of the area of Zimbabwe with low agricultural potential. Cattle are the main livestock type, supplying draught, milk, manure and meat to their owners. Goats and donkeys are important in the lower altitude areas, especially where tsetse occur.

Crop residues form an important source of winter feed for stock and are either grazed in situ or are harvested and stored. Maize is the dominant crop in the high- and medium-potential areas and is grown both as a cash and food crop. In the very dry areas sorghum and millets are grown instead of maize.

Natural pastures form the main feed source for the small-scale livestock producer, but massive overstocking has led to severe degradation over large areas. Grazing schemes incorporating simple grazing rotations appear to offer a potential measure to halt this degradation of the environment, but few are in operation at present.

Some methods of alleviating the present situation of critical feed shortages are suggested.

Introduction

Small-scale livestock producers in Zimbabwe fall into two distinct groups:

Small-Scale Commercial Farmers

These are producers on land in the former African Purchase Areas who have full and sole rights to the arable and grazing land within a defined area. In 1983 there were 8,563 farm units, with a total area of 1.07 million ha.

Communal-Land Farmers

These are farmers in the former Tribal Trust Lands who have individually-allocated arable plots but whose grazing is used by the whole community. There are about 850,000 landholders and the communal lands cover a total of 16.20 million ha.

Statistics relating to the crop and livestock production of small-scale commercial farms are published annually. Corresponding data for the communal lands as a whole are difficult to locate and are at best estimates. However, detailed surveys carried out recently in the communal lands do help to give deeper insight into conditions and practices in those areas.

Geographical distribution of small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe

Vincent and Thomas (1961), modified by Surveyor-General (1980), defined five natural regions (NR) in Zimbabwe each with differing agricultural potential and suited to differing agricultural potential and suited to different farming systems. These regions are defined as follows:

NR I: Specialized and Diversified Farming Region

Rainfall is high (900 + mm) normally with some precipitation in all months of the year. The region is one of high-altitudes and mountainous so temperatures are relatively low leading to high rainfall efficiency. The main farming activities are afforestation, orchard crops and tea and coffee plantations. Supplementary irrigation of these tree crops may be required for maximum yields. There is also some intensive livestock production, particularly with dairy cattle.

NR II: Intensive Farming Region

Rainfall is confined to the summer months (November to March) and is moderately high (750-1,000 mm). Two sub-regions have been defined:

Sub-region IIa receives an average of at least 18 rainy pentads per season, normally enjoys reliable rainfall conditions and rarely experiences severe dry spells in summer. The region is suitable for intensive systems of farming based on crop and/or livestock production.

Sub-region IIb receives an average of 16-18 rainy pentads per season and is subject either to rather more severe dry spells during the rainy season or to rather short rainy seasons. In either event, crop yields in certain years will be affected but not sufficiently to change the overall utilization by intensive systems of farming.

NR III: Semi-Intensive Farming Region

Rainfall amounts are moderate (650-800 mm) but effectiveness is reduced by intense storms and high temperatures. Rainy pentads average 14-16 per season, and fairly severe mid-season dry spell alone are common. Suitable farming systems are therefore based on livestock production. The region is, therefore, marginal for enterprises based on crop productions (assisted by the production of fodder crops) with cash-crop production on soils of high available moisture potential.

NR IV: Semi-Extensive Farming Region

Fairly low rainfall (450-650 mm), periodic seasonal droughts and severe dry spells during the growing season make this region generally unsuitable for cash cropping. The farming system should be based on livestock production but it can be intensified to some extent by growing drought-resistant fodder crops.

NR V: Extensive Farming Region

Low and erratic rainfall precludes the growing of even drought-resistant crops and livestock production based on the veld alone is the most suitable farming system.

The proportions of the various land-tenure categories which fall within each of the Natural Regions are shown in Table 1. This table is derived from pre-Independence data and does not include the resettlement schemes which have been set up in former large-scale commercial farming (LSCF) areas.

Table 1. Percentage of each natural region falling into the various land tenure categories

Land-tenure category

Natural region

% of Zimbabwe

I

II

III

IV

V


National and unreserved

16

6

12

18

23

16.8

Large-scale commercial

71

69

45

28

26

37.3

Small-scale commercial

-

4

4

4

2

3.8

Communal land

13

21

39

50

49

42.1

% of Zimbabwe

1.8

15.4

18.5

37.4

26.9


Source: Chavunduka et al 1982

From Table 1 it is clear that LSCF occupies a disproportionately large proportion of the land in the more intensive regions, that small-scale commercial farming (SSCF) areas are fairly uniformly distributed and that communal land (CL) is mainly in the more extensive regions.

Livestock holdings

Cattle are the main domestic livestock in Zimbabwe and have this dominant role in both the commercial farming areas and the communal lands. In LSCF areas cattle are kept for the commercial value of their products (meat, milk or breeding stock). In SSCF areas the position is more mixed, with sales in 1982 equivalent to about 18% of cattle numbers, but oxen also form the main source of draught power on most farms. In CL the role of cattle is diverse with the main benefits being derived from arable inputs (draught and manure), a substantial benefit from home consumption of milk and meat and only a small benefit from the sale of stock (Dackwerts, no date; PTASC 1982). The social values of livestock in CL cannot be ignored.

To some extent these different roles of cattle in the farming economy can be detected in the ratios of the different sex and age classes of cattle in LSCF, SSCF and CL herds. The smaller percentage of steers/oxen in LSCF herds (Table 2) is a reflection of the fact that these animals are slaughtered when relatively young rather than kept until too old to work. There is also a greater proportion of cows in the LSCF herd. The calving percentage in the Chibi data is very low because these figures were collected after three years of drought.

Table 2. Demography of cattle herds in large and small-scale commercial farming areas and in various communal lands. Percentages of cattle herd in each class



LSCFa


SSCFa


CL

ZCUMb

Mangwendec

Chibia

Calves (12 months)

20.7

19.7

27.7

11.0

5.1

Heifers

16.7

15.8


12.0

17.6

Cows

37.7

32.0

34.6

34.1

28.4

Bulls

2.1

4.9

3.5

4.4

11.3

Steers/oxen

21.5

27.6

-34.2

27.2

26.0

a. CSO 1982a
b. Zvimba, Chirau, Umfuli and Magondi communal lands, Gubbins and Prankerd 1983
c. Mombeshora et al 1985

Numbers of cattle in Zimbabwe have increased steadily since the rinderpest epidemic of 1896 and after the war in 1980. For most of this period the LSCF and CL herds have been roughly the same size but there are now considerably more cattle in the communal lands. SSCF holdings form only a very small percentage of the total.

Small-Scale Commercial Farming Areas

In order to examine the effect of environment on livestock holdings, groups of farming districts falling entirely within each NR were taken and the mean size of herd, the calving percentage and the percentage of the herd made up of draught animals calculated. The results are presented in Table 3.

It is noticeable that nearly all the farms have cattle, irrespective of NR. The size of farm increases as farming becomes more extensive and the farms are very much larger in NR V. Stocking rate decreases as farming becomes more extensive and is very low in NR V. These stocking rates would be regarded as reasonable by LSCF standards, except perhaps for NR IV, and it may be significant that NR IV is the only one with a calving rate below 60%. Mean herd size was roughly constant in NR II to IV but was very much greater in NR V. The high proportion of draught animals in the herds emphasizes the importance of ox traction on these farms. Although the percentage of draught animals was lower in NR V than in the other regions, the actual number of draught animals per farm remained roughly constant.

Table 3. Small-scale commercial farms grouped by natural region to examine effects on various cattle-holding parameters

NR

Farms in sample

% farms with cattle

Mean size (ha)

Cattle per

Ha per head

Calving rate

% draught animals

IIa

1,015

95.9

92.8

27.0

3.44

60.3

18.5

IIb

446

88.6

78.0

20.3

3.84

67.3

18.5

III

831

93.3

100.6

21.7

4.64

62.3

20.8

IV

572

97.7

111.7

25.3

4.42

57.7

22.0

V

54

100.0

835.5

62.3

13.14

63.1

7.7

Source: CSO 1982a

The percentage of farms in each NR with sheep, goats and pigs and the mean size of flock is shown in Table 4. These data were derived from the same sample of farms used for Table 3.

Table 4. Percentage of small-scale commercial farms in each natural regional with sheep, goats or pigs and the flock size of each



Sheep

Goats

Pigs

% farms

No. Flock

% flock

No. Flock

% farm

No. herd

IIa

12.8

8.1

25.5

10.4

9.2

3.8

IIb

17.4

6.9

20.1

5.3

7.7

8.9

III

21.6

5.5

43.4

8.0

-

-

IV

82.4

7.5

40.2

8.5

22.4

2.7

V

48.0

9.7

80.0

14.4

44.0

7.3

Source: CSO 1882a.

The percentage of farms with each class of livestock increases as farming becomes more extensive, but there is no clear effect on flock size except for the much larger flocks of goats in NR V. It is unfortunate that donkeys were not included in these statistics as they form an alternative form of draught power in the drier areas. These figures emphasize clearly the subordinate role that other classes of livestock play to cattle in Zimbabwean agriculture.

Communal Lands

The estimated numbers of the different classes of livestock in the communal lands over the past 20 years are shown in Table 5. There was a steady increase in cattle numbers to a peak in 1977, followed by a decrease until 1980. This was largely due to the prevalence of tick-borne diseases following the cessation of dipping over large parts of Zimbabwe during the Independence struggle. It is estimated that approximately one million head of cattle died during this period (Chavunduka 1984). The communal-land cattle herd then increased until 1982 after which the effects of three successive years of drought resulted in the death of about a quarter of a million head and further reduction in numbers (Chavunduka 1984). Despite these fluctuations, a linear regression fitted to cattle numbers over this period indicates a mean annual increase of approximately 76,300 head.

Table 5. Communal land numbers of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs at end of each year ('000 head)


Cattle

Sheep

Goats

Pigs

1964

1,916

186

579

66

1965

1,844

182

599

51

1966

1,714

215

778

71

1967

2,183

263

851

72

1968

2,036

278

975

82

1969

2,315

336

1,291

100

1970

2,451

387

1,504

99

1971

2,600

392

1,689

101

1972

2,691

403

1,813

90

1973

2,847

444

1,877

94

1974

2,936

466

1,909

89

1975

3,123

494

1,872

96

1976

3,183

440

1,694

85

1977

3,388

451

1,748

99

1978

2,950

494

1,872

96

1979

2,860

400

1,300

-

1980

2,869

214

935

39

1981

2,895

297

1,203

84

1982

3,240

247

858

76

1983

3,105

241

1,013

74

1984

3,087

260

1,409

94

Source: CSO 1985

The numbers of sheep increased to a peak of about 500,000 in 1978 but numbers have since decreased to approximately half that figure. Goat numbers increased steadily from 1964 to 1974 but then remained roughly constant until 1978. Numbers then decreased dramatically until 1982, but there are signs that they are now increasing. There were no clear trends in the number of pigs (which are of little importance) with numbers fluctuating irregularly between 39,000 and 100,000. It is noticeable that with pigs, too, the lowest population was recorded at the end of 1980. It is unfortunate that donkeys are not included in this table but Vaughan-Evans (1984) states that there were 256,000 donkeys in the communal lands in 1982.

A total of 3,240,000 cattle and approximately 850,000 households in 1982 implies an average of 3.81 cattle per household, but the pattern of stock owning is obviously not as simple as that. This is illustrated by the reports of the Zimbabwe National Household Survey Capability Programme (ZNHSCP 1985a, b) which cover the communal lands of Mashonaland East and West.

From Table 6 it can be seen that more than half the households in Mashonaland East and nearly 40% of those in Mashonaland West own no cattle at all and a further 38% in Mashonaland East and 45% in Mashonaland West own herds of ten head or less which are unlikely to be self-sustaining in terms of draught requirements.

Table 6. Mean household sizes and cattle holdings in Mashonaland West and East Provinces




Persons per household


Cattle per household

% households with

No cattle

>10 Cattle

Mashonaland West

5.6

5.1

38.9

45.2

Mashonaland East

4.7

3.0

54.5

37.8

Source: ZNHSCP 1985 a, b.

The same survey also recorded the numbers of households in each province owning other classes of livestock, although unfortunately numbers of smallstock were not recorded. These figures are presented in Table 7, which also contains the data of Mombeshora, Agyemang and Wilson (1985) for Mangwende (in Mashonaland East) and Chibi communal lands.

Table 7. Percentage of households in different areas owning different classes of smallstock



% of household with

Goats

Sheep

Pigs

Donkeys

Poultry

Others

Mashonaland West

45.0

8.5

2.6

1.8

68.1

2.8

Mashonaland East

18.4

5.4

10.5

0.7

61.1

3.5

Mangwende CL

27.8

1.8

4.6

4.6

87.0

10.2a

Chibi CL

51.9

5.3

6.1

29.8

79.4

2.3a

a Rabbits only quoted in this reference.
Sources: ZNHSCP 1985 a, b; Mombeshora et al 1985.

Poultry were very common, being owned by the vast majority of households. Goats were the most common ruminants and were kept especially in the drier parts of Mashonaland West (Gubbin and Prankerd 1983) and in Chibi. Donkeys made up a significant part of the "other stock" holding only in Chibi.

Now that we have categorized the livestock holdings of small-scale farmers in Zimbabwe, we should turn our attention to the feed resources available for their nutrition.

Arable cropping

The percentage of land cultivated or fallow in each NR in each of the three agricultural land tenure categories is presented in Table 8.

In each land-tenure category there is a decrease in the percentage of the land cropped as the NR becomes more suited to extensive farming. In each NR the intensity of cultivation follows the order LSCF<SSCF<CL. The intensity of cultivation in the communal lands is frightening. In NR IV, a region best suited to semi-extensive farming, almost a quarter of the land is either cultivated or fallow and in NR V, best suited to extensive livestock production, almost one-sixth.

Table 8. Percentage of area in each natural region and land-tenure category which is cultivated or fallow

Natural region

LSCF

SSCF

CL

I

7.0

31.5

38.4

II

29.3

32.0

42.4

III

10.6

12.6

33.1

IV

4.5

15.4

23.1

V

2.8

12.0

17.1

Mean

12.2

20.7

24.7

Source: Whitlow 1979.

In terms of livestock production, land used as arable has a dual consequence: it reduces the area available for grazing in summer when the crops are growing, but the residues of the crops become available as feed during the dry season. These crop residues are often of higher feeding value than the natural grazing. Small-scale farmers, both SSCF and in the CL, do not use arable land to grow crops specifically for livestock.

Small-Scale Commercial Farming Areas

In order to examine the effects of NR on patterns of cropping, the same group of farms as used in Tables 3 and 4 were taken and the percentage of arable land under each of the major crops was calculated (Table 9).

Maize is the dominant crop, being grown both as a cash crop and as a food for home consumption, and occupies roughly three-quarters of the arable area in NR IIa, IIb and III and over half in NR IV. Only in NR V was a greater area of other crops sown, with a preference for the drought-resistant sorghum. One noticeable feature is the diversity of cropping - a wide range of crops is grown, even though many are grown only on small areas.

Communal Lands

The main crops planted in the communal lands, and their estimates yields, over the period 1976-1986 are shown in Table 10.

Again maize is the most widely-grown crop, although it does not dominate to quite the same extent as in SSCFA. It must be remembered, though, that the figures in Table 10 were from the pre-Independence period before the massive incentive price rise for maize in the 1980/81 season. One point of interest is the importance of munga (Pennisetum americanum) which was hardly grown in the SSCFA.

Table 9. Percentage of arable area planted to major crops on SSCF in different natural region



Natural region

IIa

IIb

III

IV

V

Farms in sample

1,015

446

831

572

54

Mean size (ha)

92.8

78.0

100.6

111.7

835.5

Area cropped (ha)

12.20

7.58

6.21

7.96

11.67

% of arable sown to:







Maize

72.20

78.9

79.3

56.3

40.0


Sorghum

1.7

0.6

3.7

46.5



Mungaa

1.4

1.4

1.4

1.0

1.0


Groundnuts

6.7

10.7

9.4

11.8

7.6


Sunflower

0.7

2.8

0.4

7.0

3.5


Nyimob

0.2

1.2

0.9

2.3

1.0


Beans

0.1

0.8

0.1

0.8

0.3

a. Pennisetum americanum
b. Voandzeia subterrana
Source: CSO 1982 b

Table 10. Main crops planted in communal lands 1976-1980


Area (ha)

% of total

Yield (kg/ha)

Maize

738,400

43.7

695

Munga

339,800

20.1

385

Groundnuts

250,000

14.8

481

Sorghum

152,400

9.1

493

Rapokoa

116,500

6.9

493

Cotton

33,800

2.0

722

Beans

29,500

1.7

304

Sunflowers

29,400

1.7

401

Total

1,698,800



a. Elensine coracana
Source: Chavunduka et al 1982

Obviously there are likely to be major differences in the cropping patterns in the different regions, but figures are not readily available. However, even within four adjoining communal lands Gubbins and Prankerd (1983) showed clear trends (Table 11).

Maize was the dominant crop throughout but its importance decreased successively from Zvimba to Umfuli. Cotton played a valuable role as a cash crop in the latter two areas. Areas of arable per household corresponded closely with the mean holding of 2.10 ha in Mashonaland West (of which these communal lands form a part) and 1.82 ha in Mashonaland East (ZNHSCP 1985a, b).

Table 11. Cropping and other data for four communal lands in Mashonaland West


Natural region

Zvimba

Chirau

Magondi

Umfuli

IIa

IIb

III

III/IV

Total area (ha)

48,800

32,500

46,000

100,000

Arable not cropped

4,070

2,920

660

1,200

Arable cropped

7,250

6,800

2,870

4,270

% of arable sown to:


Maize

83.2

73.8

67.9

63.2


Cotton

0.3

9.1

23.0

29.0


Groundnuts

11.2

4.7

-

-


Others

5.4

12.4

9.1

7.7


Households

3,960

2,890

1,810

1,560

Arable ha/household

1.83

2.35

1.59

2.74

Source: Gubbins and Prankerd 1983

Similar trends are obvious the data presented in Table 12, for communal land districts in Mashonaland East Province. Maize occupies a smaller percentage of the arable land in the drier areas and munga becomes an important grain crop. Cotton formed a large portion of the "other crops" in Murewa and UMP but not in Mudzi, and it seems likely that the most important "other crops" in the latter area were drought-resistant grain crops.

Table 12. Percentages of arable land sown to various crops in communal land districts of Mashonaland East Province

District

N.Ra

% of arable sown to

Maize

G'nuts

Rapoko

Munga

Beans

Others

Goromonzi

IIa

86

6

4

-

0.6

3.4

Harava

IIb

72

17

4

-

5.0

2.0

Rudhaka

IIb, IIa

72

14

8

-

4.0

2.0

Wedza

IIb, III

72

16

11

0.5

0.5

-

Murewa & UMPb

IV IIa IIb III

40

12

8

21.0

10.0

9.0

Mudzi

IV

36

11

3

19.0

1.0

30.0

a Where more than one NR occurs within a district, they are listed in order of importance.
b Uzumba, Maramba and Pfungwe communal lands.
Source: PTACS 1982

Over the years the area under cultivation in the communal lands has increased. Phillips et al (1962) estimated the area of cultivated land as 1,166,500 ha, compared with the figure in Table 10 (from Chavunduka et al 1982) of 45% over a period of less than 20 years. But the increase in total area cultivated has not meant an increase of 1,689,800 ha: an increase in area per household as the number of households has increased even more dramatically - from 359,300 in 1961 to 850,000 in 1982. The mean area of arable per household therefore fell from 3.25 ha in 1961 to 1.99 ha in 1982. Vaughan-Evans (1984) states that the-ratio of arable to grazing land fell from 1: 10.8 in 1965 to 1: 6.4 in 1982. Over the same period the number of cattle per cultivated hectare fell from 1.7 to 1.5.

Once the crops have been reaped stock are allowed access to the arable area to graze on crop residues and on the grass on contour ridges, roadways and waste areas. The crop residues remain the property of the landholder, however, and if he wishes to harvest and store them for his own stock he is at liberty to do so. In the survey of Mombeshora Agyemang and Wilson (1985) 96% of the stockowners in Chibi harvested and stored their crop residues, compared with only 17% in Mangwende These authors say that the reason for this marked difference is not clear, but it is almost certainly a result of the very successful pen-feeding scheme "pushed" by extension staff in the Masvingo Province in the early 1970s (Danckwerts, no date). In Chibi grain stover is mostly used as feed for stock but in Mangwende it is mainly used for bedding. In both areas legume stover is mostly used for bedding (Mombeshora, Agyemang and Wilson 1985). Because of its generally higher crude-protein content legume stover is likely to be a particularly valuable feed during the dry season and its use as bedding seems wasteful.

Communal farmers recognize differences in the acceptability of the stover of different crops to livestock. As an example, Billings et al (1984) record that farmers in the Siabuwa valley of the Sebungwe area reported that stock do not readily graze millet stover. They considered that this was because the millet leaves were very tough and were covered with hairs.

Natural grassland or veld

Veld forms the most important source of feed for small-scale livestock producers in Zimbabwe, especially during the growing season.

The natural vegetation over most of Zimbabwe is woodland with a sparse understorey of herbs and grasses. The dominant tree species vary widely, according to rainfall, altitude and soil type. In the high-altitude high-rainfall areas Brachystegia spiciformis is the most common tree, with Julbernardia globiflora and Brachystegia boehmii more important at slightly lower altitudes. In lower rainfall areas Acacia spp. dominate on heavy soils while Terminalia sericea is characteristic of the granite sands. The Kalahari sands carry a woodland in which Baikiaea plurijuga is the most prominent species. In the low-rainfall low-altitude areas mixed tree/shrub associations occur. Colophospermum mopane is widespread and is associated with soils of poor infiltration. In most regions broad drainage areas (vleis) occur which are clear of trees and are dominated by grasses (often of low grazing value) and sedges.

In many communal lands, especially those near major centres of population, cultivation and felling of trees for fuel and poles has changed large areas of woodland into grassland. Rattray (1957) classified the grasslands of Zimbabwe into seven types ranging from mountain grassland in the eastern highlands to Aristida-Dactyloctenium-Eragrostis veld in the driest parts of-NR V. A knowledge of these grassland types, and of the successional changes likely to occur in them, is of great value to anyone dealing with grazing land in Zimbabwe.

Small-Scale Commercial Farming Areas

There are very few published data on the grazing resources of these farms. In drawing up Table 3 stocking rate was calculated as hectares of total farm area per head of cattle because cattle have access to the crop residues during the dry season. The arable forms only a small proportion of the farm and the figures are very similar when calculated on a grazing-area-only basis. Stocking rates are very similar to those on equivalent LSCF areas and no particular problems seem likely.

Communal Lands

Vincent and Thomas (1961) presented a suggested carrying-capacity range for each NR and sub-region defined in their agro-ecological survey. Using the upper limit of the Vincent and Thomas range and the area of CL in each sub-region, the total carrying capacity of the communal lands was calculated as 2,385,000 livestock units. (A livestock unit (LU) is equivalent to 500 kg of grazing ruminant.) Vaughan-Evans (1984) calculated the present livestock holding in the CL as 2,642,724 LU, which represents 10% overstocking - not really a very horrific situation.

Reality, however, points to a rather more gloomy interpretation because, as usual, averages tell us very little. Some portions of CL are grossly overstocked, others (usually in tsetse-affected areas) are virtually unused. Cleghorn (1966) reported on a survey of the condition of grazing areas in CL which gives scant ground for complacency. Grazing land was divided into four condition classes and the proportions of these in each NR are presented in Table 13.

Table 13. The proportions of communal land in each natural region falling into four veld-condition categories

NR


Veld condition

Bare

Very overgrazed

Moderate

Good

I

-

21.4

76.7

1.9

II

-

65.5

18.0

16.5

III

-

68.2

12.9

18.9

IV

4.8

29.7

16.6

48.9

V

39.1

26.3

9.8

24.8

Source: Cleghorn 1966

This report makes depressing reading and authors such as Sandford (1982) and Whitlow (1980) have been quick to point out that the communal land herd of 1,916,000 in 1964 has increased tremendously subsequently. They argue that the 70% increase in cattle numbers between 1964 and 1982 is hardly commensurate with the position outlined by Cleghorn. Unfortunately, data for individual CL are not available and it is not possible to be sure how much of the increase was due to expansion into areas which were virtually unstocked at the time of Cleghorn survey. However, it is almost certain that some of the areas classed by Cleghorn as bare or very overgrazed were carrying considerably more stock in 1982 than they were in 1964. On the other hand, those were the areas where the greatest stock losses were experienced during the 1982-1984 drought.

The communal lands are carrying their high cattle population at the expense of ecological stability, A and erosion of the grazing areas is now considered to pose a greater threat than erosion of the arable land. Siltation of rivers is just one example of the consequences which follow this exploitative grazing.

One approach to halting the degradation of the grazing area is by the application of some form of grazing management. During the early 1970s "grazing schemes" were widely instituted in Masvingo Province (Froude 1974). Normally these schemes were planned on the basis of five paddocks which were grazed in rotation for 14 days and then rested for 56 days. No accurate data on veld condition were recorded in these schemes but observations by grazing specialists indicated a definite upward trend with an increase, for instance, of Hyparrhenia spp. This was confirmed by the comments of tribesmen involved in the schemes (Danckwerts no date). Unfortunately nearly all these grazing schemes foundered during the liberation struggle and the fencing was removed and used for other purposes. The major limitation to the reinstitution of these schemes today is the lack of capital for fencing. It is true that grazing could be controlled by herding the cattle in particular areas, using seasons to demarcate the "paddocks", and even simple schemes of this kind have been shown to lead to improvement (Robinson 1961). This is being done now in a few instances but the feasibility of herding is reduced by the attendance of the young males (the traditional herders) at school. However, in some cases adults are taking it in turns to herd the cattle of the whole village. Several communities are now making plans to institute some form of management on their grazing area and if these prove successful the practice will spread rapidly.

The way ahead

For the agricultural scientists, suggesting possible solutions to the problems of the communal areas in Zimbabwe is both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because there seem to be no end of beneficial interventions, frustrating because the agricultural economy of the CL is tightly interwoven and an intervention here is likely to lead to a reaction there, and soon the matter gets beyond the stage of mere technology and involves political or sociological changes as well. Quite obviously there can be no lasting solution to the problems inside the CL without major external changes as well. One such is the creation of a voracious employment market so that those who have no desire to be cultivators of the soil can find other ways of earning a living. Those who then remain in the CL will be those who have chosen to farm (rather than those who were forced to through lack of alternatives), and would regard farming as a career. Such a situation is far in the future: let us confine ourselves to the situations here and now and to technical aspects alone.

Grazing Areas

Barnes and Clatworthy (1976) suggested four possible ways by which the grazing areas in CL could be stabilized and their carrying capacity increased. An essential preliminary to the application of these steps was the demarcation of grazing areas so that each village knew the extent of its grazing and would have some incentive to maintain or improve it.

Development of Stock-Watering Facilities and the Application of Rational Grazing Procedures

In some places, particularly in the drier parts of Zimbabwe, the number and distribution of watering points limits the use of grazing. Grazing near the water point is overused and degraded, that further away is underutilized. If watering points were spread more widely, the utilization of the grazing would be more uniform and more efficient.

Another way of increasing the uniformity of utilization is by some form of rotational grazing. Under uncontrolled grazing, favoured areas and palatable plants are continuously defoliated without adequate rest. With rotational grazing they have a chance to grow out and increase in vigour. Five paddocks seem to be the minimum number which accords with both the technical and the physiological needs of rotational grazing systems and, as has already been pointed out, this was the number used in the grazing schemes of Masvingo Province. Claims have been made that rotational grazing will lead to massive increases in carrying capacity. These claims have not been borne out by the results of research in Zimbabwe and it is preferable to regard the main benefit of rotational grazing as being increased ecological stability. Other benefits could flow from this. Dams, for instance, would not be so subject to siltation and a programme of small-dam construction would be more easily justifiable.

The Use of Sheep or Goats in Combination with Cattle

Because of their different feeding habits, the use of smallstock with cattle can lead to more uniform utilization of the grazing and to greater production. We have already seen that smallstock are common in CL, especially in the drier areas. What is needed is greater control of their grazing as uncontrolled smallstock can be enormously destructive, and perhaps better marketing facilities so that stock in excess of local requirements can be profitably sold.

The Selective Thinning or Clearing of Tree and Shrub Growth

The natural vegetation over most of Zimbabwe is woodland and the trees can compete with and drastically reduce the grass understorey. Clearing the tree cover has been shown to lead to marked increases in grass yields. In the higher rainfall areas few of the trees have much browse value and clearing of the trees, perhaps leaving shelter belts, seems justifiable. In the lowveld many of the trees and shrubs form useful browse and selective thinning is preferable. In all cases follow-up operations after felling are essential. Uncontrolled cutting can lead to coppice regrowth much denser than the original tree cover.

The Introduction of Legumes into the Veld

Nitrogen is the main nutrient limiting the productivity of grassland and, even in the drier areas of Zimbabwe, applications of nitrogen have been shown to lead to marked increases in yield (Mills 1966). Nitrogen applications to veld are not economically justifiable, especially under CL conditions. The other way of adding nitrogen to the ecosystem is through the use of nodulated legumes and in NR II and III veld reinforcement has been shown to be feasible on commercial farms. This topic is dealt with in a separate paper at this workshop. So far the technique has been little used in CL but it does seem to offer one means of increasing the productivity of grazing above natural levels. However, it should form the final step in the ladder of improvement of the communal grazing areas and be undertaken only when the preceding steps have been negotiated.

Arable Lands

There appear to be two means of increasing production from the feed resources of arable land: firstly by utilizing fully what is already grown, secondly by growing new crops or exploiting presently unused areas. These will be discussed under four headings.

The Harvesting and Controlled Feeding of all Crop Residues

The use of crop residues, and especially legume stover for bedding in cattle kraals seems very wasteful. These crop residues have a relatively high feed value and should be used as feed. Feeding legume hay or residues with grain crop residues may increase the utilization of the latter and there may also be a role for feeding small amounts of purchased supplementary protein as well as salt and minerals if necessary. In view of the power limitations on CL farms, processing of crop residues (e.g. milling) before feeding seems unlikely to happen. It is desirable that the herd be subdivided and kraaled separately at night and the residues rationed to the most important classes of stock, probably the draught animals and the cows with calves.

Bedding in the kraals is important, both for the well-being of the stock and the production of compost, but dry grass is the most suitable source.

Growing Perennial Forage Plants, Especially Legumes, on Contour Ridges or Waste Areas

There is always a considerable area of land within the cultivated fields that is otherwise wasted and which could be sown with forage plants to offer considerable scope for increasing production. If the plants are left for winter grazing in situ, there is a need to select ones which retain their leaves well and tree legumes may be especially suitable. Possibly the best way to use herbage produced from these areas may be to cut it and feed it as hay.

Multiple Use of Land or Multi-Purpose Crops

Under present conditions maize is likely to retain its pre-eminent position in higher-rainfall CL areas because of its interchangeable role as food and cash crop. Overall production from maize lands could perhaps be increased by intercropping with a grain or forage legume. Similarly, in choosing grain legume crops, the fodder value of the stover could be taken into account. Because of the widespread protein deficiency in CL, both in humans and in livestock, as much emphasis as possible should be placed on the pulses.

Increased Use of Non-Ploughed Arable Land

The report by Gubbins and Prankerd (1983) showed that a considerable proportion of the arable is not ploughed every year. This land could be included in some form of rotation which should incorporate a legume/grass fey. This would have the dual function of contributing to livestock productivity as well as restoring the fertility of the soil.

References

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Billings, K.J., Chiudza, C., Murphree, M.P. and Reh, I. (1984). Enterprise patterns and end uses in the Siabuwa valley. In: Sebungwe Regional Study, First Interim Project Report, August 1984, Department of Land Management and Applied Social Sciences, University of Zimbabwe.

Chavunduka, D.M. (1984). Project proposal for livestock improvement schemes for the communal areas of Zimbabwe. Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, Harare.

Chavunduka, G.L., Baker, J.E., Blackie, M.J., Chigaru, P.R.N., Chipudhla, P.W.T., Chitsike, L.T., Furusa, J.M., Gapare, R.L., Kirby, E.W. and Millar, C. (1982). Report of the commission of enquiry into the agricultural industry. Government Printer, Harare.

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