Food insecurity is the matter that requires much attention as it has several consequences such as poor health, poor reproductive performance, reduced productivity resulting into increased poverty levels. Food insecurity also causes poor nutrition which leads to stunted mental and physical growth especially in children.
The main sources of Zambia’s food insecurity at household level are an inability to produce enough food due to lack of agricultural service support and technical exigencies such as unfavorable climatic conditions, disease and insect attacks, inadequate incomes and inability to purchase food, inadequate market and transport systems to take food from surplus to deficit areas within the country.
With huge pieces of land and abundant water bodies that Zambia has, agriculture development is the key to improving many people who have been affected in the areas of food security, health, sanitation, education and employment.
In order to enhance food security, there is need to boost Agricultural performance on smallholder farmers who have been particularly constrained due to lack of access to resources, geographical isolation causing lack of access to services and markets, lack of productive assets that can improve agricultural production such as mechanized farm implements.
To address some of the afore issues Government through Enhanced Smallholder Livestock Investment Programme (E-SLIP) launched a 5000 livestock family empowerment system aimed at uplifting people’s living standard.
The 5000 family programme is being implemented by Multipurpose Cooperative Society whose objective is to improve economic condition of its members and weak communities across the country through provision of facilities for better farming and business.
Minister of Fisheries and Livestock NKANDU LUO said the empowerment Programme will help eradicate poverty in helpless communities.
She explained that having a strong cooperative movement is the most sustainable way to addressing economic challenges the country is facing.
“With this initiative am confident that issues of unemployment, poverty and disease will significantly reduce as more people will have a share in the cooperative,” she explained.
Speaking when she handed over 1000 chickens, 100 goats and 10 pigs to more than 200 youths of Munali in Lusaka, Professor NKANDU LUO observed the need for youths to engage into livestock production in order to improve their lives.
Professor LUO said for youths to stop indulging in illicit activities such as alcohol and substance abuse they should venture into productive activities that will enable them grow into responsible parents.
“Youths can only be future leaders, if they take full responsibility of their lives as the improvement of one’s life entirely depends on an individual,” said Professor Luo.
Professor Luo said her ministry is ready to train youths who want to venture into livestock farming through undertaking livestock production activities such as dairy farming and poultry farming in order to make them self-sufficient regarding employment and income generation.
And Kalumbila Multipurpose Cooperative Society Limited Chairman CHILEKWA MAMBWE emphasized on the need for youths to stop waiting for handouts from government but instead become innovative.
Mr. MAMBWE said the country will only develop if youths take up a leading role in economic activities of the country and stop being used as tools of political violence.
“Politicians take advantage of youths because they are financially unstable, therefore youths can only stop the menace if they engage into economic activities such as farming and other business ventures,” said Mr. Mambwe.
He stated that the cooperative will help communities by improving rural rangeland and undertake livelihood missions to remotest and reach out to as many people as possible in order to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable development in rural areas.
“The programme will not only provide source of livelihood to an individual but also to others who will get recruited in the system and will promote value addition in dairy products such as skimmed milk and milk powders, poultry will include breeder farms, hatchery units, feed mills and related various by-products from the livestock industry like wool, fiber, skin, hides, hairs, hooves, horns, bones,” explained Mr. Mambwe.
According to Dogarawa Ahmad Bello (2005) a cooperative is defined as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise. It is a business voluntarily owned and controlled by its member patrons and operated for them and by them on a nonprofit or cost basis.
Meanwhile, E-SLIP Coordinator for livestock production and productive unity Johns Nyirongo has urged farmers in the country to take livestock production as a business in order to maximize profit.
Dr. Nyirongo observed the need for livestock farmers to grow pasture and forage as well as vaccinate their livestock against diseases as they require attention just like human beings.
He explained that unless Livestock are fed right pasture they cannot grow to the size that is required for the market hence the need to grow pasture that will help improve their nutrition.
Dr. Nyirongo said issues of animal health should be put into consideration in order to help reduce livestock diseases such as tick bone and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) among others. NAIS