The Center for trade Policy and Development has expressed concerned with the manner in which the case involving the slaughtering of the animals of one Pemba Farmer and the subsequent auction of the carcasses of the animals was handled.
CTPD says the organization is particularly disturbed with reports of 8 carcasses that were reportedly missing from the original number of animals that were slaughtered.
“While we have heard that the said animals were burnt and that the vet officials did not need any permission or consent from the farmer to take the action they did, we are of the view that in the interest of transparency and accountability, this action should have been done in an open manner. The slaughter of the animals was a public thing which was all over the media and so should have been all other actions that followed,” said CTPD Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo.
“Another thing we wish to express concerns on is the prolonged ban of the movement of livestock. While we appreciate the efforts that the government has put in place to contain the spread of the Foot and Mouth Disease, we should also not be oblivious to the fact that the livelihood of most of the farmers in the two areas largely depends on agriculture visa-vis crop farming and livestock farming,” he said.
“As a country we are all alive to the fact that the 2018/2019 farming season did not go well in the southern half of the country.”
Mr Mwaipopo said Zambia is expecting very low yields from the southern half of the country and that this means the government will be overwhelmed to provide relief food.
“Against this background, it is our considered view that the only window of hope for the farmers in the two affected provinces lies in their ability to maximize revenue generation for their livestock. As such a prolonged ban on the movement of their only viable source of income is suicidal not just for the farmers affected but for the government too.”
“As CTPD, we would like to call upon the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries to step up and address the problem in Southern and Eastern Province with the urgency that it deserves. If left unchecked it may escalate into a national crisis.”
He said the affected farmers who are growing impatient every passing day may resort to smuggling their animals out of the affected provinces as a survival strategy.
Mr Mwaipopo said this can be prevented by a more proactive approach on the part of the government.
“We would also like to urge our government to invest more money in the veterinary departments of our country. Animal health and welfare requires substantial investments.”
He added, “We have observed with sadness that we tend to be very reactive every time a crisis befalls us as opposed to being proactive. We know as a country that we are so prone to tick borne diseases.”
“This is the more reason we ought to invest in technologies that can control ticks. It would be a bad idea to roll out a program of sinking several dip tanks in all constituencies and farming camps. This should also go hand in hand with the equipping the veterinary departments all over the country with the right tools and support systems as they carry out their work.”
Mr Mwaipopo said CTPD knows that the Zambian government knows the huge potential in the livestock sector that is why they informed the country not so long ago of a huge market for goats and sheep in Saudi Arabia.
“If we are to tap into that market, we will need to invest more in animal disease control. Available statistics indicate that Fisheries and livestock play an important role in Zambia’s agriculture sector, together accounting for 35 percent of the agricultural GDP. With the right incentives and support structure in place, the livestock sector can make even more meaningful contributions to the country’s overall GDP.”