The livestock industry is one of the key sectors which has huge potential to contribute towards Zambia’s wealth creation and economic development. As a result, the sector has remained a major source of income for many Zambians especially those living in rural areas. Between 45 and 47% of the rural population in Zambia depends on livestock for their livelihood.
A recent Parliamentary report shows that the current state of livestock farming in Zambia is worth over US$1.5 billion, accounting for around 35% of agriculture share of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The good news is that the sector has experienced steady growth in recent years. Beef and dairy products are growing between seven per cent and 10 per cent annually respectively. The poultry industry has also doubled in size over the last 10 years.
Despite its huge potential for growth, development of the livestock sector in Zambia has been stifled by a number of barriers. The sector continues to face many challenges which include inadequate development funding and taxation from Government, rampant livestock disease outbreaks; poor disease control mechanisms and poor infrastructure. There’s currently no livestock development policy to deal with these challenges but Government is in the process of developing one.
The exact numbers of livestock in the country are not known and without proper data it is challenging to formulate strategies that address the key problems. On the other hand, Zambia, cannot export beef not because of small cattle population in the country but due to a livestock sector which has continuously been ravaged by disease outbreaks.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) says Zambia’s beef production has been plagued by disease outbreaks affecting its productivity and exports. The country’s cattle population stands at about three million animals with 20.3 million hectare of land identified as suitable for livestock grazing.
Agriculture and Livestock deputy minister Luxon Kazabu said the country had a lot to learn from Botswana to boost the dairy and livestock sectors and strive hart do penetrate the European market in terms of exporting beef.
The decision by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to enhance diversification by ensuring that Zambia’s livestock sector becomes competitive and disease-free is welcome as it will help the sector contribute to the growth of the agriculture sector and eventually contribute to the growth of the economy.
Source: Times of Zambia