THE Zambia National Farmers’ Union says it will not allow a few negligent peddlers of Foot and Mouth Disease to bring down the positive strides farmers have made over the years to improve local breeds and grow the livestock sector. And ZNFU president Jervis Zimba says the union will work hard to bring on board tobacco growers of all sizes and those dealing with the growers to participate in the review process of the laws so that a firm foundation is in place.
Zimba said the union had received reports of FMD in Monze, Pemba and surrounding areas with shock.
“This is because the development comes barely a few weeks after the outbreak of FMD in Chisamba east, which was effectively contained. The ZNFU feels there are some elements that have been negligent in the handling of animals and have nonchalantly ignored biosecurity measures when moving animals as stipulated by the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock’s Veterinary Department, resulting into the importation of FMD,” he said.
“We need not emphasise the risk that these perpetrators are putting our country’s animal population at, and more, the image that this portrays to countries that have been courting Zambia to export animals to, and the losses in monetary terms that come with the FMD. As ZNFU, we shall not sit idly by and allow a few selfish and negligent elements and peddlers of FMD to bring down expensive positive strides our farmers have made over the years to improve local breeds and grow our livestock sector.”
Zimba called on the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock to conduct a thorough forensic investigation into the matter, trace the perpetrators and bring them to book.
He said farmers had to be responsible for every action that they take.
“And as ZNFU, we shall pursue this matter to its conclusion, together with the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and other government authorities.
We applaud government for moving swiftly to acquire the vaccines, treatment and vaccination of animals in Monze, Pemba and the surrounding areas,” Zimba said.
He thanked the district task force for the tireless job done over the past two weeks.
“ZNFU will continue to collaborate and work closely with government to ensure real growth is achieved in agriculture,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zimba said the union was keen on bringing stakeholders on board because they know that when the tobacco industry collapses, farmers stand to lose out and poverty is highest in the rural areas.
Zimba welcomed the government’s position to rise above seemingly insurmountable challenges affecting the entire tobacco value chain.
“Farmers are elated that tobacco marketing will soon open for them to begin selling the crop which was stuck on farm. Further, the reopening of consultations on the Statutory Instruments and review of the tobacco legislation by government should bring together consensus among all players in the tobacco industry and with government,” he said.
He said the unions take was that at this juncture, diversification of the Zambian economy was not just an option but was a make or break situation and was dependent upon vital sectors such as agriculture which was a springboard of many industries through value addition, suppliers of agro-services, transporters, the banks and many more.
Zimba said a booming agriculture sector was a source of income to its people and to the Zambian economy.
“Therefore, the action taken by government is timely and gives an opportunity to all parties to invest in meaningful dialogue. The Zambia National Farmers’ Union as an organisation representing all farmers in the country from small scale, emergent to large scale wishes to state its commitment to the process of dialogue unequivocally,” he said.
“We will work hard to bring on board the tobacco growers of all sizes and those dealing with the growers to participate in the review process of the laws so that a firm foundation is in place. We are keen to perform this role because we know that when the tobacco industry collapses, farmers stand to lose out and poverty is highest in the rural areas.”
Zimba said it was agreed that a bird in hand was worth two in the bush, hence the need to nurture this budding industry so that farmers growing tobacco can continue to do so.
“To our Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Michael Katambo, we say thank you for this radical turnaround of events for the better for a situation that was soon heading for the boil,” stated Zimba.