The Zambian government has deployed 1 500 field officers to conduct a livestock census last done more than 40 years ago.
Livestock and Fisheries Minister Michael Katambo said the census, to be conducted in collaboration with the Central Statistical Office (CSO), will set a benchmark for future surveys in the livestock sector. “All systems for the exercise are in place. We have 250 vehicles and 1 500 field staff,” Katambo said.
The National Treasury allocated K50 million in this year’s budget to conduct the national livestock and aquaculture census.
Despite its huge potential for growth, the development of the livestock sector in Zambia had been stifled by a number of barriers. One of the barriers hampering the growth and development of this sector related to a lack of reliable data.
“Statistics regarding livestock population in Zambia are fairly weak. This is because there had been no livestock census conducted since the 1970s. Therefore, the census will enable us deepen our understanding of the huge economic potential of the sector,” said Permanent Secretary David Shamulenge.
According to current estimates by the country’s Veterinary Department, the livestock sector comprises 4 638 000 cattle, 4 800 000 goats, 500 000 sheep, 3 790 000 pigs, and nearly 100 000 000 birds.
It is also noteworthy that the census came against a backdrop of a requirement for 1 million goats and sheep per year from Zambia by Saudi Arabia. Stakeholders identified the lack of data, traceability and limited export infrastructure as the major challenges that need to be overcome to meet the Saudi demand for goats and sheep.
Other problems are the low population of goats and sheep, coupled by competition from established exporters like Kenya, Ethiopia and Australia.
“This will also enable us to assess the economic potential in the export of goats and sheep to Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region,” Shamulenge said.