ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
STAKEHOLDERS in the beef sub-sector have expressed concern over the influx of imported meat on the local market saying if unchecked, the vice has the potential to undermine investment in the sector.
To this effect, the stakeholders have called on Government to enhance regulation of beef imports to save local production and consumers from the risk of eating beef with growth promotants.
Growth promotants are used to help increase the efficiency of animal production by increasing weight gain and product output.
According to a Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) weekly brief, the stakeholders recently called for a meeting after receiving complaints from beef producers over the alleged increased quantities of beef from other countries that have affected demand for the local products.
The union says farmers informed the meeting that they were unable to sell their livestock to processors due to huge quantities of imports that have flooded the Zambian market.
â€œThe World Bank bought a number of cattle for small-scale farmers in 2013 aimed at fighting rural poverty and improving the viability of small-scale beef producers in the country.
â€œMost of the beef and live cattle are coming from regional markets such as South Africa and Namibia. There is no need of importing such beef products when the country has enough supply from the livestock sector within Zambia,â€ ZNFU says.
The union says stakeholders further urged Government to ensure that it tests imports for growth promotants than relying on records from importers.
ZNFU observed that the growth promotants could be one major reason why imported beef is far much cheaper than local products even after factoring transport costs.
â€œFarmers are asking Government to put in place control measures aimed at stopping beef imports to save the local beef sub-sector from collapsing and throwing people out of employment through retrenchments, as processors would no longer afford to pay wages for their existing workforce,â€ the union says.
ZNFU says most farmers have complained that they are stuck with the beef due to lack of market and that imports have robbed them of income to pay school fees for their children, dependents, as well as other family needs.
ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka