KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
OVER 4,000 jobs at Zambeef Product Plc are at stake following the influx of cheap imported beef on the local market which has also negatively affected the growth of local processors, producers and farmers in the country, a senior official has said.
Company general manager Huntley, processing and abattoir (Chisamba) Ryan Crause said the development has led to the drastic reduction in the firmâ€™s performance and negatively affected those who depend on the business to sustain their livelihoods.
Mr Crause said the number of animals being slaughtered monthly has reduced to about 1,300 from 2,000 hence this may affect the growth of the livestock industry.
He said, â€œIf the Zambeef continues to record a reduction in sales of beef and other products, we are likely to close down the abattoirs which might result in laying-off over 4,000 workers at our Chisamba branch.â€
Currently the field lots are full since the company is unable to slaughter any animals, because the demand for beef and other products has reduced.
Mr Crause said this when he briefed Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry officials and journalists led by permanent secretary Siazongo Siakalenge during the tour of Zambeef offices in Chisamba on Friday.
The company has currently stopped buying animals from both small-scale and commercial farmers as there is enough stock waiting to be slaughtered.
Responding to the concerns, Mr Siakalenge said the ministry is working with the relevant ministries to ensure the problem is addressed.
He said Government has resolved not to allow people to import beef and beef products as this is a threat to the development of the livestock sector.
â€œWe have started looking into the problem, we have started talks with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and the Ministry of Health [as] it is not in the interest of Government for people to be importing beef and beef products both legal and illegally.
Representatives from the three ministries are scheduled to hold a meeting soon to address some of the challenges.
KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka