Over 1000 cows have been artificially inseminated under a programme run by Chinhoyi University of Technology CUT, with a target to inseminate as much as 4000 more in the current season.
Artificial Insemination involves collecting and storing semen from high quality bull breeds and using it to fertilise cows to improve cattle genetics and mitigate against inbreeding which is rampant in communal herds.
CUT Chairperson for Animal Production Dr Fungai Chatiza said the rollout of the artificial insemination programme in the 2019/2020 season began is November last year and is well underway with a target to inseminate between 3000 to 5 000 cows this year.
Dr Chatiza said farmers have responded well to the programme aimed at improving the size and quality of cattle herds.
“The response has been very good. What they have appreciated is that we are offering a diverse range of beef breeds, so there is a wide selection to choose from.
“They have also understood that it’s not only to increase their cattle numbers, it’s also to increase the geneticsof their herds.
“We have nine breeds on offer, so with the advice of our AI (artificial insemination) team we are offering Mashona, Tuli, Boran, Brahman, Simbra, Chabray and for farmers interested in diary breeds we have Red Dane, (and) FriesianHolstein,” she said.
Dr Chatiza said while they are located in Mashonaland West, they have however rolled the artificial insemination programme to other provinces such as Masvingo, Midlands and Matabeleland North.
She however bemoaned the impact of droughts and lack of means by farmers who cannot pay for services yet they need payment for the sustainability of the programme.
“The farmers are paying for the services and that is one of the challenges farmers are facing. We have had droughts and so forth and not all farmers who are willing to participate are able to afford even though our prices are very low,” she said.
Dr Chatiza underscored the need for partnerships with corporates saying this will go a long way to assist farmers and improve the size and quality on farmers’ herds.
CUT’s artificial insemination programme is funded by treasury through the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation,Science and Technology.
Six technicians with the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services, Midlands Province recently underwent artificial insemination training at the university as part of preparations for implementation of the Livestock Revitalisation Project in the province.
The university is establishing itself as a centre of knowledge and practice in artificial insemination since they began the rollout of the programme in 2018.