FORTY farmers from Matabeleland region yesterday demonstrated that there is still hope for humanity when they handed over 13 cattle to the Mpofu family of Dolahali in Nkayi District, which lost 21 cattle after mistakenly dozing them with a deadly grain protectant.
Following the recent mishap, which was reported by The Chronicle and went viral on various social media platforms, scores of people at home and outside the country have responded with pledges to assist the family in the form of cash and kind donations.
A total of 16 cattle were donated but two of the beasts will be handed over to the family at a later date as they could not make it to Bulawayo on time while the other could not be moved due to foot and mouth quarantine measures. The particular animal will be sold so that the family gets another cow from a green zone.
The herd of cattle, comprising some of the best breeds available in the country, cost about US$25 000 and were handed over to the Mpofu family at the Bulawayo Veterinary Services Department offices.
The heroic and kind farmers from the region also mobilised other donations, which include cash, hay bales, transport, fuel, medication, dipping chemicals, vaccines and molasses, which added up to a donation value of US$40 000.
After a short handover presentation in the morning, the cattle were loaded onto a truck organised by the farmers to take them to their new kraal in Nhlekisa Village, Dolahali area.
Speaking on behalf of the 40 farmers, prominent farmer and former National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) general manager and board chairman, Mr Alvord Mabhena, said the farmers “swiftly responded to this otherwise monumental humanitarian catastrophe”.
He said farmers from the region were touched by the tragedy after reading The Chronicle report and felt duty-bound to do something.
“When this story broke out in the media, we were told the Mpofu family had lost and buried their 21 head of cattle all valued at US$8 500, at least according to the newspaper.
“Right now, we are looking at a total value of 16 top quality heifers and an equally top-quality bull, all valued at US$25 000,” said Mr Mabhena. “In addition, all other donations in kind and as outlined above amount to an additional US$15 000, totalling some US$40 000 from some 40 farmers altogether.
“Not only have we donated cattle and sundry, but we have helped the Mpofu family to invest for the future with some of best breeds you can find in the country, helped them restock, and helped the Nkayi community to benefit from the country’s top quality progeny you are looking at right now.”
Mr Mabhena said the life changing investment will be underpinned by sound local livestock support services and broad-based national programmes.
While the Mpofu family used their dead cattle for various services, which included draught power, Mr Mabhena said the donated cattle were “a very strong bank, a life investment in one of the most critical economic sectors — agriculture”.
Matabeleland North Provincial Veterinary Officer, Dr Polex Moyo, said the disaster that befell the Mpofu family was a painful lesson, which demands changes from farmers.
He said officers from his department will supervise and provide technical support to the Mpofu family to help them care for the donated cattle.
“Farmers must view cattle farming as a business where cattle are the big bank. They should not be used for ploughing and pulling scotch- carts,” said Dr Moyo.
“As a department, we will open a field farmer’s school at the Mpofu homestead so that we teach all farmers in that community how to keep cattle as business so that they are uplifted by keeping cattle.” A family representative, Mr Dennis Mpofu, who was at a loss of words, hailed the gesture from the farmers saying it has helped heal the wounds of their loss.
He said they will adopt new methods of keeping cattle as they would be taught by the veterinary officers.
“Words alone are not enough for us to express our gratitude for the love you have given to us as family. You have helped my children and by that you are now part and parcel of the Mpofu family,” said Mr Mpofu.
“I urge all farmers to take all precautions to avoid such disasters happening again. We are starting a new life as farmers in how we view cattle and we appreciate the farmers’ field school that will be opened at our homestead to assist other farmers.”
Mr Mpofu said the family will make other plans for draught power so that they do not use the donated cattle for that.
He was accompanied to the handover ceremony by Mr Orderly Mpofu, who administered the doze leading to the death of the cattle, and Mr Lindani Mpofu, who bought the grain protectant.
“When you (Chronicle) phoned us for details following the tragedy, little did we know that it would result in this huge gift,” said Mr Mpofu.
“We are at a loss for words at what has happened as we did not think that we will get such a gift. Thank you for sharing our tragedy with the world.
“It has resulted in good results. Even our mother, I know she will be over the moon when she sees these cattle,” he said.