Countries with the biggest cattle herds in Africa include Ethiopia, Chad, and Sudan, each boasting over 30 million cattle, all raised using traditional methods in semi-desert regions.

In 1960 when Chad got independence, it had the same number of cattle as Rhodesia, at 2 million cattle. After 53 years, Chad, utilizing traditional techniques, no vaccinations and no injections, has grown its herd to 32 million, six times larger than Zimbabwe’s 5.6 million that are raised using Western methods such as vaccination, hybridization and pen feeding.

A cow in Chad is valued at an average price of $1300 due to their purebred cattle, while in Zimbabwe, the average is $250 per cow due to reduced pure bloodlines. Chad, with a population of 17 million, has a herd worth an average of $41.6 billion or $2447 per person in national wealth terms.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe, with 16 million citizens and a herd of 5.6 million valued at an average of $250 per cow, has a herd worth $1.4 billion or $93 per person in national wealth terms.

Zimbabwe’s herd value has been compromised by genetic hybridization, while reproductive capacity has likely been reduced due to factors such as hybridization, vaccinations, GMO feeding and pesticide contamination of feed which has resulted in a less disease tolerant herd.

Even South Africa, which utilizes Western technology in cattle ranching, has a lower cattle per capita ratio than even Zimbabwe, with 12.3 million cattle in a nation of 61 million people. The average price of a cow in South Africa is $410, totaling $4.9 billion or $82 per person.

Given these observations and the fact that the countries with some of the biggest herds in Africa are in nations with semi-arid and desert conditions, it’s clear that Western farming or animal husbandry techniques are inferior to traditional practices.

So why then are African leaders pushing us to follow inferior Western farming systems instead of using empirical evidence on the continent to build the farming models we should follow?

I recently read a US Department of Trade memo encouraging US companies to enter Chad, Ethiopia and Sudan to sell vaccines, medicines, and veterinary products. They are now trying to undermine these successful cattle ranching countries, and if their leaders are like those in Southern Africa, they will blindly copy and destroy their national wealth. #WakeUpAfrica

Written by Rutendo Matinyarare, Chairman of ZASM.

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