16 Jul 2013 07:53

HARARE, July 13 (Bernama) -- The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) has embarked on a programme to vaccinate cattle against diseases that broke out in some parts of the country recently, Zimbabwean news agency New Ziana reported.

ZFU said the programme started in Hurungwe district in Mashonaland West province last week and will continue in the rest of the country.

"In response to reports of cattle disease outbreak, ZFU has launched a vaccination programme that involves mobilising members and having their cattle vaccinated at affordable cost," it said in a statement.

"The vaccination programme would assist in boosting the national herd."

More than 35 cattle have died from a chronic skin disease called dermatophilus congolensis in Chegutu East and Kadoma which affects a wide range of livestock species.

The disease, known also as Senkobo after a village in Zambia where it is believed to have originated, has also affected areas in the Zambezi Valley, Binga, Gokwe and Sanyati.

In May, Zimbabwean veterinary authorities reported an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the Matabeleland North province.

At least 1,908 animals showed signs of susceptibility to the disease out of 20 cases reported.

Cattle population in Zimbabwe has declined from 6.8 million in 2000 to 5.2 million at present, with beef slaughters falling from 605,000 to 200,000 during the same period.

Livestock experts said the local beef industry has potential to contribute to the country's economic development.