Zambian beef production and sales to the country’s lucrative export markets have been hit by outbreaks of diseases, curbing crucial and potential revenue generation for the country’s economy.

Zambia is however keen to continue as one of the top and prime beef export countries in Africa. Emmanuel Mwamba, the permanent secretary for Zambia’s Western Province said efforts to fight outbreaks of diseases such as foot-and-mouth needed to be intensified.

“The enemy we have are diseases such as contagious bovine pleuro pneumonia and foot and mouth. This has resulted in poverty, ban on movement of animals which has affected the export of our beef while our friends Namibia and Botswana export to Europe,” he said.

The country currently has a cattle population of about 3 million which is reared on nearly 20.3 million hectares earmarked for grazing pens. The Zambian Daily Mail reported ZNFU media liaison officer Calvin Kaleyi saying the Southern African country could easily increase its cattle herd to about 10 million.

“Currently the demand for both choice and standard beef is outstripping the country’s capacity to supply. This is reflected with the requests for importation approval from the bigger companies both for the importation of choice carcasses and standard meat for processing.,” he said.

He added that the beef market had growth potential in Africa of about 5 to 7 percent each year. This is mainly due to a stronger middle class that is emerging in most African countries on the back of firming incomes and improving economies.

“The increase in beef sales has mainly been attributed to unavailability of beef for sale from local producers, resulting in sharp price increases for beef, thus suppressing demand,” he said.

The newspaper also quoted Mwamba saying the government was raising its preparedness to fight cattle disease outbreaks in the crucial Western Province area. “The livestock industry was neglected and we want to ensure that we revive the livestock services such as deep tank and constant vaccinations. This will enable the lifting of the ban on cattle movement from Western Province.”

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