KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
A NEW research by the Indaba Agricultural Policy and Research Institute (IAPRI) has disclosed that livestock production and marketing has the potential to improve smallholder farmersâ€™ livelihood, but small herd size continues to limit smallholder livestock commercialisation.
The institute observed that it is encouraging that cattle mortality rates have reduced and the population growth rates increased between 2012 and 2015, though more still needs to be done.
According to IAPRIâ€™s research paper on â€œZambian Smallholder Livestock Herd Dynamics: What Are the Policy Implications?, provision of adequate animal husbandry extension and health services are key in addressing the high mortality rates that could be translated into more sales, especially for small-scale livestock traders, thereby improving the income base of farmers.
It said interventions that address the reproduction rates such as adequate feeding on good quality feed is one of the main strategies to facilitate the growth of young livestock into mature breeding and commercial slaughter animals to boost the sector.
â€œPublic and private sector supporting livestock development should provide training to farmers on the importance of strategic feeding to address the dry season feeding challenges. Addressing the problem of high mortality rate, which affects the commercial offtake rates, there is need for the provision of adequate animal husbandry practices and scaling up on the delivery of animal health services,â€ the statement reads.
It, however, suggested that more research is needed to determine the capacity of the current private animal health service providers and the limiting factors.
IAPRI said the research also revealed that there was a reduction in cattle mortality rate and increased population growth rates during the periods of interventions.
It said there is need to scale up the current public interventions targeted at improving the delivery of cattle health services to boost the livestock sector in the country.
KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka