Zambeef advances smallholder cattle project in Mbala

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Smallholder cattle farmers in Northern Province are set to see their livelihoods improve under a new livestock improvement project launched by Zambeef last week.

The food processing and retailing giant has partnered with non-profit organisation Musika to realise the area’s vast potential through the stimulation of private investment and cattle development in Mbala and surrounding areas.

“Farmers are a vital link in ensuring food security and development of the agriculture sector in the country,” said Zambeef Head Retail and Marketing and Corporate Affairs Manager Felix Lupindula. “If we aim to seriously grow in the agro-processing sector as a country, we must deliberately groom and equip our farmers to compete in the current market where maximised productivity and sustainability go hand in hand.”

Speaking during the official launch of the project, Mbala District Commissioner Kedrick Sikombe pointed to the importance of private sector investment in developing key sectors of the economy as well as highlighted the growing need for combined efforts if investment is to yield positive results, especially in the more rural areas of the country.

“The livestock sub-sector is relatively under-exploited but recognised as an increasingly important part of the agricultural economy. It plays important economic and social roles in the livelihoods of many Zambians, particularly smallholder farmers. The sub-sector also plays an important role in the provision of draft power, organic fertilizers and by-products such as hides and skins used as raw materials in the leather and tannery industry,” said Mr Sikombe.

The reinforcement of commercial relationships between Zambeef and smallholder farmers will result in multiple benefits, with farmers accessing a ready market for cattle, technology and knowledge transfer, infrastructural development, and forward pricing.

“I wish to commend you for this effort as this project will enhance government’s efforts in extension services, animal husbandry, disease control and controlled breeding practices in the targeted areas of Nsokolo, Mwamba, Kawimbe, Kaka, Kapufi, Lunzua and Mbala central camps. This initiative will greatly assist in building the capacity of smallholder livestock producers through the training provided to increase the productivity of their herds,” added Mr Sikombe.

The initiative seeks to equip farmers with the relevant management skills and education in good animal husbandry practices, herd health and breeding techniques through extension services thus enabling them better manage their resources and maximise returns.

Zambeef offers market services to the farmers in the region including outreach and animal husbandry extension services, providing access to veterinary drugs and services through strategic collaboration with one or more private veterinary companies and public veterinary services such as Afrivet Zambia Limited and Leloisa Veterinary services, where applicable. Zambeef also works with the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock structures, where appropriate.

The extension services involves improving technical, problem-solving, planning, include regular field days and farmer-demonstration focused on primary health care in various disciplines such as breeding techniques, vaccination, parasite control, supplementary feeding and many more.

“Also of critical importance is the development of a robust smallholder-based supply chain for livestock. I wish to commend Zambeef for adding to your business portfolio the provision of livestock veterinary products and services including extension services through your strategic partnership with Leloisa and Afrivet. Your combined effort is an expression of the commitment that you share in seeking solutions that provide opportunities for small scale and emergent farmers to graduate out of poverty,” said Musika Managing Director Reuben Banda.

He further urged farmers in the targeted areas to take advantage of this opportunity by making use of these services that would help diversify and improve their farming businesses.

Zambeef already has an established abattoir in Mbala, which it uses as a base for developing a smallholder livestock supply chain.

With Zambeef’s established nationwide value adding facilities and distribution network, farmers can tap into markets that may otherwise be unavailable or impossible for them to reach.

Musika estimates that over 500 farmers will participate in and benefit from the cattle supply chain once it is fully operational.

“We hope this will stimulate growth in livestock farming in the region and that farmers will be encouraged to invest in their production and increase productivity as well as persuade crop farmers to also consider diversifying into livestock farming or growing inputs for stock feed alongside their usual crops,” said Mr Lupindula.

Zambeef has a similar project with the NGO in Mongu where a $150,000 milk plant aimed at supporting the growth of small-scale dairy farmers in Western Province has been installed. Zambeef provides technical assistance, training and guidance, and a working knowledge of animal husbandry to small-scale dairy farmers on how to improve dairy management and livestock productivity.

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