Chilumba Farmers Save Cattle from "extinction"
By Gift Chanda, Communications Officer
The cracking of whips and tinkling of bells shatter the early morning peace in Chilumba area, about 49 kilometres from Kabwe district, as farmers hurriedly move their cattle for spraying and deworming at the only livestock service centre in the area.
Enock Likwabila inspects his animals at LVCSS’ Chachacha-Chilumba Community livestock centre
Enock Likwabila is one of the farmers who bring their cattle to the centre for spraying and deworming. Four years ago, the 77-year-old farmer almost lost his entire herd to livestock disease.
I lost 48 animals. I was devastated and afraid because I didn't know how to protect the remaining 15. So when this livestock service centre was finally established here in September 2015 and I brought my animals for spraying for the first time, I was happy because I got hope that they would survive," he said, recalling his initiation into the animal disease preventative health care system.
The Zambian smallholder cattle industry is highly uncompetitive, with low stocking rates and high mortality and morbidity rates in most cases due to lack of access to veterinary services, technical knowledge and training on management practices.
In response to these challenges, Musika supports private companies such as LVSCC to improve access to veterinary drugs, veterinary services, genetics and nutrition products to smallholder livestock farmers in the country.
Enock Likwabila’s cattle go through the spray race
Musika supported LVSCC with equipment to establish livestock service centres in Kabwe and other parts of central province. It also helped to strengthen the company's capacity to provide training, veterinary and extension services to farmers through the provision of a motor vehicle and motorbike for extension staff.
At the Chilumba livestock centre, LVSCC installed a spray race to service about 400 herds of cattle and giving farmers the opportunity to check their animals' health and vaccinate them against black leg and anthrax at a fee.
The firm also runs livestock preventative health care trainings for farmers in the area. It trains farmers in best practices in cattle management such as deworming, vaccination, dehorning, branding, and selecting stock for breeding.
Since Likwabila started accessing livestock services at the centre, he attests that he has never lost a single animal. He stressed the importance of improving access to veterinary products and services and technical knowledge.
Recent studies conducted by Musika have also shown that farmers can reduce their cattle mortality rate and increase their productivity when they improve access to veterinary services and technical knowledge.
Farmers that participated in a research conducted by Musika in 2016 aimed at establishing the benefits derived from developing improved distribution systems for veterinary, nutrition and genetics products using two firms in Southern Province as case studies revealed that cattle mortality rates reduced by 4.1%, while calving rates increased by14% and milk production per month increased by an average of 84 litres. The farmers attributed this to access to improved veterinary services.