by Dorothy Chisi
The livestock sector plays an important role in socio-economic development of rural households. This sector also plays a significant role in commercial farming and is also considered as one of the potential sectors for export earnings.
The importance of livestock goes beyond its food production function, as it provides draught power and organic manure for crops as well as hides, skin, bones, blood and fibres to the industrial sector.
Stanbic Bank, in collaboration with Herdbook Society, have consistently sponsored the annual auction of animals in Lusaka, Zambia, for many years. The Bull Sale is an annual event for livestock farmers in Zambia and contributes significantly to the development and strength of the livestock sector.
Livestock farmers from across the country recently trooped to Lusaka’s showgrounds where a display of various livestock breeds was showcased. Farmers could bid on the animals they wanted to buy at their preferred prices.
Herdbook Society Chairperson, Chucky Cantlay, described the auction as one which was well attended by a lot of interested parties. “We had more than of 500 people attending the auction. Many people attended to look at the fine animals, but we expected more buyers,” he said.
He described the sales as not being impressive compared to the previous auctions, as prices were lower than anticipated. “Beef, sheep and goat stud breeders in Zambia spend huge amounts to get their animals ready and some travelled long distances to the market, especially people from Southern Province where the roads are in a deplorable condition,” he said. He explained that unlike the previous years when they had more than 40 animals, this year they recorded fewer animals at 28.
The annual event was graced by the presence of Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, Kampamba Mulenga, who noted the significant role played by livestock in the lives of farmers.
During her official opening of the auction, the Minister said that government stood behind livestock farmers. She said that government is ready to support efforts of key stakeholders such as Herdbook Society and Zambia National Farmers’ Union on issues concerning not only the import of quality breeding stock, but also the sale of such animals within the country.
She said government was aware that imported breeding stock could be of great benefit to Zambia by improving the national herd. “Let me mention that such imported breeding stock may not be affordable to most of our small-scale farmers. But to overcome this problem, government is establishing some artificial insemination satellite centres country-wide through my Ministry.”
Ms Mulenga said livestock breeding centres were also being established to be used as sources of affordable breeding stock for small-scale farmers. The Minister also used the platform to warn dishonest traders, who bring low quality animals from outside the country for the only reason of maximising financial gain and completely ignoring the long-term effect of such a move on the national herd. “Such an act is criminal. Anyone who is involved will not be tolerated and will face the full wrath of the law by being arrested and prosecuted,” she said.
The event was not short of encouraging words from the main sponsors. Stanbic Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Leina Gabaraane, attended the event. He said the varieties of Bonsmara, Angoni, Boran, Brahman and Santa Gertrudis which were auctioned, offering farmers a good selection to develop the livestock industry.
Mr Gabaraane said Stanbic Bank will continue to support agriculture as proof of their commitment to clients and objectives as a bank towards growth of the agricultural sector in the country. He said the livestock sector in Zambia is worth $1,5 billion and accounted for around 35% of agriculture’s share of national gross domestic product. He also noted that Zambia had moved from being a net importer of commodities to a net exporter of value-added commodities. “As a bank, we understand the potential that agricultural holds and it is for this reason that we have aligned ourselves to government’s diversification strategy from concentrating risk in mining to agriculture.
”To demonstrate their capabilities in the sector, they are the largest financiers of agribusiness in Zambia with investments in loans and advances of over K2 billion across primary and secondary agriculture.
Cattle prices could have been better
The total number of animals on offer were 18 bulls, four females, four sheep and six goats. The most expensive bull weighing 810 kilograms was sold for K65 000 to Down Cowley from Alexwill Bonsmara breeder, Graham Mulders. The buyer of the most expensive bull also received a feed hamper from Tiger Feeds.
Graham expressed disappointment with the prices that the animals fetched. “This is very disappointing and does not bode well for the beef industry in the country. From this moment on, we must put our heads together, talk to government and come up with a plan on how we can improve the beef industry,” he said.
He said the sheep and goats were sold at better prices compared to the bulls and that the price of beef in Zambia had been static for the past four years. This has the unfortunate consequence that a lot of beef farmers were going out of the business. This problem must be addressed. He expressed the need for beef to be exported in order for the farmers to make profits as well as reduce any surpluses.
Barry Purdham, a South African auctioneer, awarded the highest bid on the sheep rams at K10 000. The seller was G Menage from Hamakula Farm while the buyer was Ms L Coventry. The highest priced goat was bought at K9 250. The goat fetching the second highest prize was bought by Acha Mwanguku at K7 500 from Rhys Williams. All six goats auctioned were sold.
Farmers were encouraged to prepare their animals as early as possible for next year’s auction.