Stock farmers worried about veterinary service cost hike of 500%

Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, Michael Katambo, recently announced a dramatic increase in government veterinary services.

According to the statute (105 of 2016), government veterinary officers would now charge ZMW125 for the first hour of a farm visit, and ZMK100 for each subsequent hour spent on farm. Consults would be charged at ZMW50.

Jervis Zimba, president of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU), warned that the revised fees would make livestock farming uncompetitive. “This will increase the cost of raising cattle and have a negative effect on farmers,” he said.

“The new fees are well beyond [the means of] small-scale farmers like us,” said Bismarck Monga, a farmer from Chilanga, just outside Lusaka. A number of farmers interviewed by agreed with Monga.

‘The new fees are well beyond [the means of] small-scale farmers like us’

“These fees will make many of us think twice before we consult vet extension officers, and this could lead to disease outbreaks,” said Donald Kalemba of Shimabala in the Kafue district.

The opinion among farmers was that the government should be using incentives to encourage people into agriculture. “This latest development is moving us in the opposite direction,” said Kalemba.

Increased charges would also be levied at ZMW50 animal for meat inspection, ZMW200 for a pregnant animal slaughter permit, and ZMW250 for pregnancy diagnosis per animal.

The ZNFU has approached government with a view to addressing the increased vet services fees. The union showed concern at the lack of consultation with the sector before the new regulations were formulated.

Beef stakeholders will soon meet with the ZNFU to discuss the increased fees.

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