THE Government will next week roll out an extensive cattle Artificial Insemination (AI) programme aimed at improving the quality of the country’s livestock as well as increasing the national herd a Cabinet Minister has said.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Principal Director in the Department of Crop and Livestock Mr Joseph Gondo at the prize giving ceremony for the winner of the Harare Agricultural Show 2018 Agri-produce section at Mrs Simangaliphi Tshuma-Ncube’s homestead at Khulumausenza village in Tsholotsho District yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri said the Livestock Revitalisation Programme being spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) would play a pivotal role in improving the genetics of cattle in communal areas.

The programme seeks to introduce pure breeds that include Tuli, Boran and Mashona through AI.

“The first launch of the programme was in Matabeleland South, in the Gwatemba area, and I have been reliably informed that the subsequent AI in the area should have produced its first calves. This is indeed interesting news and a testimony of the efforts by ZAS to improve livestock quality and quantity in communal areas.

“A massive roll out of the project is expected to commence this February targeting to inseminate 8000 heifers throughout the country during the AI period, which runs from February to April, when livestock are in peak health condition. This should produce at least 1000 elite bulls, to replicate this effort in future,” said Minister Shiri.

Mrs Tshuma-Ncube came out first out of 299 farmers from all the country’s provinces. The second prize went to a farmer from Manicaland while the third and fourth prizes were scooped by farmers from Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West respectively.

For her feat Mrs Tshuma-Ncube received an 80 horsepower tractor valued at US$25 000 sponsored by Agricon including various farming accessories from the same organisation, three disc plough as well as a maize sheller from Seed Co.

Minister Shiri said agricultural shows were of paramount importance as they create a platform for farmers to be imparted with the requisite farming skills as well as exchanging ideas among themselves.

“The ZAS seeks to advance the cause of agriculture through the organisation and hosting of vibrant, dynamic, insightful shows, exhibitions and expos that bring together a diverse array of stakeholders in the various value chains, as seen gathered here today.

“Participation at agricultural shows is not for a few but it is for everyone. I urge all of you gathered here today to take advantage of this important platform provided by organisations such as ZAS and Whange Agricultural Show Society, and partake in shows,” he said.

Also present at the ceremony were Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Cde Richard Moyo, Tsholotsho Senator Cde Alice Dube, Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho South Cde Zenzo Sibanda, Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North Cde Sibangumuzi Khumalo, ZAS chief executive officer Dr Anxious Masuka, Harare Agricultural Show Agric-produce section chairman Mr Ivan Craig, Matabeleland North provincial Crop and Livestock officer Mr Dumisani Nyoni, Agricon Equipment Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mr Faizul Materia and various provincial and district dignitaries