Government has bemoaned the poor state of livestock infrastructure in the country meant to improve the productivity of the livestock sector.
Fisheries and livestock Minister NKANDU LUO says it is unbelievable to see most of the livestock infrastructure constructed at a great cost go to waste due to vandalism and encroachment.
Professor LUO says infrastructure such as livestock market centers, breeding centers and quarantine facilities built by the African Development Bank (ADB) in Eastern province over the past 10 years have remained idle and become prone to vandalism and encroachment.
“This is very sad and unacceptable, this is money we got as a loan over 15 years ago and we are still paying back as government and yet the infrastructure has not even been used for the purpose they were intended” Luo said.
She wondered how officers in her ministry and leadership at district level would allow the infrastructure to deteriorate when most of facilities have not been used at all since they were constructed.
Professor Luo says there is need to change the way people value government property and begin to appreciate the significance that the infrastructure brings to their livestock and livelihoods.
“If people value their livelihoods, they will value these livestock market centers and breeding centers and not vandalise or encroach on them as is the case” she remarked.
Professor Luo says there is therefore urgent need to make the livestock facilities active and ensure that people of Zambia get the benefits that the livestock sector offers across its value chain.
Professor said this in Eastern province when she toured ADB funded livestock infrastructure in Petauke and Katete districts that have been completely abandoned and encroached from the time they were constructed more than 10 years ago.
And speaking when the minister paid a courtesy call at her office, Petauke District Commissioner VELENASI MOYO says it is worrying to see the rate at which land meant for livestock infrastructure development has been encroached.
Ms. MOYO says the livestock market center in Petauke has been completely surrounded by residential houses and wondered how farmers will bring livestock to the centers for marketing and other purposes.
“Honourable Minister, I do not know what will become of these structures since there is encroachment, will this structures still be used for their intended purposes or will they be modified to suit the environment surrounding them” Moyo asked?
Ms. MOYO says there is need to revamp the livestock market center and see what can be done to the structures because most of the people in Petauke depend on livestock rearing for their livelihood.
Meanwhile Professor Luo says government will evict anyone who has encroached on its land meant for livestock development.
Professor Luo says the law is very clear and anyone found farming, making blocks, building houses or engaged in any other activity will be dealt with accordingly.
“My ministry will put beacons and fence off its land and I appeal to traditional leaders to advice their subjects to stay from state property or risk be arrested” Luo warned,
Speaking when she paid a courtesy call on Headman Simon Jere of Simon Jere Village in Mwami, Chipata, Luo said her ministry will transform the quarantine facility in Mwami into a breeding center to allow the people access improved livestock of breeds of cattle, pigs, chickens and goats.
Professor Luo urged the people in the country to form cooperatives and visit their respective livestock officers to request for the type of livestock they would to keep under the Enhanced Smallholder Livestock Improvement Project (E-SLIP) stocking and restocking programme.
And Headman Jere says he and his people are grateful for the efforts the government has put in place to restock livestock and control livestock diseases in the country.
“As a Headman I will sensitize my people on illegal livestock movement to control diseases and I kindly convey my gratitude to the government for lifting the ban on livestock movement in our area as we can sell our cattle” Jere Said.