Zambia: Fisheries and Livestock Must Be Part of Thriving Economy

30 03 2009

Editorial from Times of Zambia:

For many years, the livestock and fisheries industries have received little attention as they are considered by many people as non-profitable ventures.

Except for commercial farmers who run big ranches, most small-scale farmers treat animal rearing as a by-the-way and never take to investment seriously.

It is common to see many farmers struggling to obtain loans for crop production and few will fight to obtain loans to invest in animal rearing.

Unfortunately, even areas like Eastern, Western and Southern provinces which have traditionally been in livestock business, the animal population has decimated and few are encouraged to restock their animals.

There are many reasons for this, but one could be the prevalence of diseases such as foot and mouth, corridor, east coast fever and others which have now become endemic.

This has discouraged many farmers, especially that there has been no major investment in disease control both in terms of research and drug manufacturing.

This applies to other areas like poultry, pig farming and many others and the results are that the livestock industry has largely remained undeveloped, and yet the country has vast potential.

The fisheries industry has also suffered the same fate of lack of promotion.

In areas such as Luapula Province, there has been no concerted effort to develop fish farming and, at the moment, the lakes are depleted of many fish varieties.

For example, fishermen will use mosquito nets to catch fish, ignoring the negative impact of this kind of indiscriminate fishing method or they will just ignore the fish ban.

With the country now focused on diversification of the economy from over-reliance on metals such as copper, it is important that sectors such as fisheries and livestock industries become part of the thrust of diversifying the economy.

The Government has shown the way forward by having a minister appointed to look at this sector and give policy direction, but the private sector must also take the initiative.

This means financial institutions must be ready to provide funds while other entrepreneurs must explore the area of agro processing.

There is no better time than now when the dangers of a mono-economy have hit because of the turbulence in the world metal prices.

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