Zambian Cattle ranching could benefit Zambia, just as other countries have benefited.
However, here in Zambia, a considerable cattle population is mostly owned by small scale farmers.
Owning cattle is lucrative; it may present value for prestige. It is a source of funding for school fees, paying dowry or other expenses. It is also something to fall on by farmers when crops fail.
Despite its appeal, the Zambian cattle ranching has its own pitfalls - animal diseases. This is particularly prevalent in Southern Province.
Some of the potential diseases which have created havoc are the following:
In order to control the spread of different types of diseases the government instituted various measures such as restrictions in movements. Other mandated measures introduced were testing, slaughtering, vaccinations and compulsory cattle dipping.
However, there are other problems which are encountered in effecting these measures: uncontrollable cost of dip chemical, illegal stock movement and poor management of dip tanks. And in other cases, for example, due to poor sensitization, some farmers do hide their animals during vaccinations exercises!
Despite the measures taken by the government, cattle diseases have led to a reduced growth in the traditional sector.
At family level this has led to reduced food security and at a national level, this has led to the reduction in the potential contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP).
What is the way forward? The government should not relent, but should continue to pump in money as much as possible in every budget year in order to mitigate the effects of diseases in the livestock industry. This is the only way we can ensure that the cattle ranching sector becomes a major foreign exchange earner now and in the future!
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