Friday, June 08, 2012
By Selina Nyirenda in Lusaka and Cynthia Phiri in Choma
Fri 08 June 2012, 13:25 CAT
LUXON Kazabu says Zambia must be aggressive and position itself as a regional beef exporter. And Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Nicolas Banda says the government is determined to find best ways and resources to invest in the livestock sector aimed at controlling animal diseases.
In an interview yesterday, Kazabu who is also agriculture deputy minister said the country had a lot to learn from Botswana to boost the dairy sector.
"We must as a country strive hard to penetrate the European markets in terms of exporting beef. Like our friends in Botswana, the country is a desert but it's the largest exporter of beef in Africa," Kazabu said.
He said cattle diseases were a setback in the country's quest to become an exporter of beef.
"We just need to rehabilitate the dip tanks. That is also an obstacle because these tanks are located very far from where our people live, so by adding to the number of dip tanks that we already have, I think we will be shortening the distance," he said.
"Going forward, we have to look at how best we can support our people especially those in the countryside who do not have enough money to see how best we can help them so that they too can dip their cows. Because in the villages, the grazing of cattle is communal, so if one person is dipping his animals and the rest are not, I think that is a futile mission because the cattle will mix and in the process even the ones that are dipped will pick up some disease."
The Nkana member of parliament observed that the quality of the cattle bred needed to be improved.
"We need to improve the breed, the breeds of our cattle especially the tradition breed, we can still help our people improve the quality of their cattle in the countryside," he said.
Kazabu said dairy farming was another area that needed much attention and investment hence the need for the ministry to promote it.
"I know that there is quite a lot that is happening already but there is room for us to even do better," Kazabu said.
He said he was privileged to witness how dairy farmers in Kenya had a mapped a route for selling and collecting milk and hoped that would be adopted by local dairy farmers in the country.
Kazabu said such an initiative was a meaningful way of not only empowering the local people but fighting poverty as well.
And speaking when he paid a courtesy call on Choma District commissioner Golden Nyambe, Banda said issues of animal disease had hampered the livestock sector for years, posing a huge challenge on the country's ability to export beef products.
"As a country, we have not been able to export beef products because of animal diseases as a ministry and as the PF government we are determined to have this situation corrected," he said.
Banda said the Ministry of Agriculture was determined to make sure that the livestock sector was able to hit the acceptable standards of meat products, including milk production.
"We need to plan and sensitise our farmers to diversify other than just the mono crop of maize, we want our farmers at every level to do a mixed kind of farming; we are encouraging them to keep livestock," he explained.
Banda said economically, people keeping livestock made more money than those who just had about ten hectares of a maize field, adding that such kind of economic strides needed to be understood by farmers.
He urged farmers not to stop growing maize completely because it was the country's staple food but to diversify.
"It is important to continue growing the crop to feed other countries in the region. As Zambia we have been recording bumper harvest but we can also improve on the storage for the grain facilities so that the quality of grain is maintained after harvest and for it to also hit a good market locally and international, so our effort should be in that direction," said Banda.