Livestock sector gets major boost
Published On April 17, 2024 » 827 Views» By Times Reporter » Business, Columns
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By Ketra Kalunga

ZAMBIA’s livestock sector has continued to grow steadily and remains pivotal to the livelihood of many people.
For instance, according to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock’s 2023 Mid-Year Economic Report, the population performance of most of the livestock species recorded marginal increase except pigs and chickens which posted a decline.
The goat and sheep population increased by 6.57 per cent and 8.93 per cent respectively while cattle population increased by 2.62 per cent.
To ensure steady growth in the sector, the Government has in the 2024 National Budget committed to enhancing animal identification and traceability.
The Government has developed an online system which is being piloted in Central, Lusaka, North-Western, Southern, and Western provinces.
The system will enable the public to register, search and identify animals.
The platform will be linked to a Short Messaging System for ease of access by animal owners and so far, 68, 518 livestock farmers with 411, 108 head of cattle having been captured.
It is envisaged that the cattle population of approximately five million will be captured under this system by December 2024.
The Government is also implementing a community-based livestock breeding programme through a pass-on scheme to support livestock farmers with high quality breeding stock.
So far, 225, 000 livestock have been distributed to 36, 000 households countrywide.
Under this development, a total of 12, 000 livestock farmers in the country will benefit.
To increase livestock-carrying capacity and build climate resilience, the Government will continue implementing forage and pasture production, stocking and restocking programmes as well as private sector investment in value addition.
This is in order to stimulate domestic market demand for products and increased rural incomes, jobs and food security.
The private sector is supplementing Government efforts by coming up with innovations aimed at improving the management of livestock in the country and creating market linkages.
An Internet and Communication Technologies Company, Qualikeeper Investments Limited has developed a digital platform for boosting livestock productivity and enhancing market access.
Chief technical officer Nicholas Katenekwa explains that the digital platform is a livestock management system that is used to monitor livestock automatically and remotely.
Mr Katenekwa who is also co-founder says the goal is to empower both small and emerging farmers to learn the best practices and give them tools to boost productivity and access to different markets.
Mr Katenekwa says the livestock digital ecosystem was developed in 2022 to boost productivity and help connect players in the ecosystem including aggregators, off-takers, input providers, finance and insurance providers, advisory and extension services.
Mr Katenekwa says in an interview that the platform has best practices in record keeping and farm operations incorporated in the software.
He adds that the digital platform has a simplified design that is easy for small, medium and commercial livestock farmers to use.
Mr Katenekwa explains that data related to animals and their status is collected through a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system that includes fixed or handheld readers, antennas and microchips in animal ear tags.
He further says the RFID system interworks with other technologies like digital scales with communication interfaces and hybrid cloud through an Internet of Things (IoT) box.
The digital platform runs analytics on the collected data to generate alerts to farmers related to key performance indicators including herd numbers, average daily gains, the period between the birth of a cow or goat and the next birth and conception rates among others.
He says the stockkeeper’s features and products enable farmers to go beyond counting herd numbers to actually knowing the performance of their operations tailored to the business model of their farms such as feedlot or yard, stud or male animal, cow and calf among others.
The digital platform also allows farmers to share groups of animals that are ready for sale thereby connecting them to markets local and international through a virtual platform.
“Furthermore, finance, insurance, advisory, veterinary service providers can connect to farmers through the StocKeeper platform,” he says.
Mr Katenekwa says this allows farmers to boost their productivity and be able to get full value from their animals by getting access to top markets that require traceability of meat products.
He says the Stockeeper system has been installed and is working at Sativa Stud, a commercial farm with over 200 goats and over 6, 000 cattle near Mendham Farm in Mazabuka district.
He says as stakeholders in the livestock sector, Qualikeeper Investments Limited wants to see Zambia and Africa as a whole get to a point where farmers know the value of the animals and harness that value to create financial freedom and economic growth.
A local enterprise, Goliath Aerospace Technology and ZADAC Goat Breeders Zambia have also partnered to improve traceability of livestock production for exports for small and medium scale farmers in the country through a digital agriculture management system.
Goliath Aerospace Technology co-founder James Chama says the system will enable farmers to record and track livestock production from birth up to the market.
Mr Chama says in an interview that through the system, countries will be able to trace livestock production diseases, the vaccination process and animal inventory management.
“We are solving the problem of lack of data-driven livestock production for small and medium scale farmers in Zambia and sub Saharan Africa,” he says.
Mr Chama says small scale farmers in the country struggle with feed shortage, land scarcity, and untimely credit access, which hinder sheep and goat productivity.
He says with the introduction of the software, small and medium scale farmers will experience smoother farm management operations, saving valuable time, energy, and money in the process.
Mr Chama adds that the platform will further ensure transparency, integrity, monitoring growth, and tracking health, animal inventory management
He says by providing farmers with accurate and real-time data on their livestock, the local enterprise aims to improve their productivity and overall livelihood.
ZADAC Goat Breeders Zambia has also introduced artificial insemination in livestock to improve breeding.
Chief executive Ooficer Bafana Moyo says the programme has been introduced in collaboration with the University of Zambia (UNZA).
Mr Moyo says in an interview that a number of farmers in the sector have responded well to the development because they have seen the benefits of artificial insemination.
He says these include among others improved quality of breed and affordability of breeding stock as this is a cheaper process than buying an animal for breeding.
“The other benefit is that the young animals are born at the same time so management and planning for the market becomes easy,” he says.
Efforts to develop the sector should continue, especially that livestock has the potential to create jobs for the rural population to ensure economic growth.

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