For many years, the livestock subsector had been lagging behind in the Northern Province despite the region being endowed with abundant land, water, pasture and human resource.
But the creation of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has significantly opened a new window for increased investment in the livestock sub sector in the province which has not fully benefited from the multiple benefits of livestock farming.
And the coming of the Livestock Infrastructure Support Project (LISP) has immensely helped to revitalize the livestock sub sector through a series of interventions such as the construction of livestock infrastructure in selected districts.
The project which extended its operations to Muchinga Province had two subcomponents namely rural community infrastructure support and public infrastructure support which saw the construction of milk collection centers, livestock service centers and livestock check points.
The initial project design was to reach out to 100,000 livestock farmers who were to be equipped with knowledge on better livestock management skills that would help grow the livestock business.
In Kasama District, a state of the art livestock service centre was constructed at Chipompo and was designed as livestock training centre with dwelling houses.
Mr. Ntachi Sikaona, a livestock farmers of Kasama is one of the farmers that have appreciated the livestock infrastructure.
“We are very delighted for having been equipped with this infrastructure. It will help us to enhance our knowledge on animal production and health,” he said.
Dairy farmers have not been left out. A milk collection centre with modern accessories was constructed at Musa and it has positively stimulated interest in scores of farmers in the area.
The livestock farmers have also seen the construction of a slaughter facility meant to improve the safety of livestock farmers who are in the business of selling animals to butchers around Kasama and surrounding districts.
LISP has also finished the construction of the regional laboratory in Kasama which was initially started by government but stalled due to technical challenges.
The regional laboratory will enhance the diagnosis of livestock diseases quickly as opposed to a situation where samples had to be taken to Lusaka for diagnosis.
It is also hoped that once the facility is fully operational the mortality of animals will significantly reduce as solutions for mitigating many diseases will be handled within a short time.
In a bid to mitigate the trans-boundary movement of livestock between the neighboring Tanzania and Zambia, the project went a mile further and constructed the livestock check point in Mbala district which is essentially meant to quarantine animals brought in from Tanzania and lessen the introduction of new diseases.
The Kasesha check point is near the place where a lot of animals are often prone to been trafficked into Zambia, a trend that pauses a great challenge to the governments efforts of controlling Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
Apart from the infrastructure, LISP also gave livestock to the farming community in the “pass on the gift” programme.
Mr. Fraser Nkula a Senior Livestock and Production Officer for Northern Province explained that the programme was designed in such a manner that once the first set of beneficiary farmers receive livestock, they were to pass on female calves to other beneficiaries hence, contributing to the population of animals among farmers in the project operational areas.
“The pass on the gift concept which was introduced by LISP through Heifer international is one classic model which has also helped to stimulate interest in our farmers in livestock farming,” he said.
Mr. Nkula explained that LISP project sub-contracted Heifer International to undertake the “pass on the gift” programme and selected eligible farmers benefited.
Goats, chickens, pigs and cattle which Heifer International gave to eligible beneficiaries have significantly helped in raising the livestock population profile in all the project operational areas.
It is clear that the government crusade of creating a sustainable and vibrant livestock sector is fast becoming a reality in Northern and Muchinga Provinces as infrastructure which has been constructed in selected districts is positively stimulating increased investment in the livestock subsector as more and more farmers are yearning to venture into the lucrative business.
In order to sustain the gains recorded by the two provinces in terms of enhancing livestock population, government needs to start working harmoniously with all critical partners in the livestock development chain. NAIS