Musika, an independent Zambian non-profit company, pledged its support to Zambeef’s smallholder cattle development project, in the Northern Province, at a recent hand-over of equipment.
Zambeef aims to put an estimated 500 farmers into the livestock supply chain through this project which is worth US$800 000.
Included in Musika’s support ‘package’ was a Toyota Hilux, three motorbikes and eight livestock service centres with spray races.
Zambeef, Zambia’s largest food processing and retailing company, has already set up some of the project infrastructure.
“Through the veterinary services, Zambeef will effectively train small-scale farmers on deworming, dipping cattle, branding and vaccination. Zambeef will also bring in semen from exotic cattle breed to inseminate the local cows – it is vital for local livestock farmers to understand this method to be effective,” said Felix Lupindala, Zambeef’s head of marketing and corporate affairs.
“The fact that Zambeef is expanding operations into this ‘non-traditional’ area of high potential, improves the potential of converting low-productivity smallholder beef herd management practices to more intensive beef management ultimately leading to increased household incomes from the assured market, as Zambeef buys the animals,” said Gift Chanda, Musika’s communications officer.
Chanda said the Northern, Muchinga and Luapula Provinces have viable livestock populations that can support commercial offtake. These herds, however, had been ravaged by disease because farmers had little to no access to vets or vet services.
“The area is vast and it requires mobility to manage the project. Qualified livestock personnel will use the vehicle and motorbikes and the livestock service centres will serve as points of demand for dipping, vaccination services and training,” said Chanda.
Uplifting small-scale farmers
According to Chanda this is an important partnership. The Zambian livestock processing industry has not, previously, supported long-term growth in the smallholder supply chain which represents a substantial and growing component.
“Significant investment needs to be made in building capacity and confidence among smallholders [so that they] invest in their livestock herds and are encouraged to do so through veterinary, nutrition and genetic markets.”
Zambeef has set up a project in Mongu, in the Western Province, where a milk plant worth US$150 000 has been set up. It is hoped that this will motivate dairy farmers in the region to enter the market.
The company also helps farmers by providing technical assistance, training and guidance. Once farmers have gained a working knowledge of animal husbandry they are more confident and better equipped to manage dairy cattle and improve productivity.