THE Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has appealed to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock to deal with the import permits for processed meats and meat products before the livestock sector is lost to unfair foreign competition.
Union president Jervis Zimba said ZNFU was vexed that import permits for processed meats and meat products have continued to be issued, ultimately disregarding to protect the livestock sub-sector against those cheaply imported products.
“As ZNFU, we have taken time to survey the market and it is saddening that a wide array of processed meats; such as polonies, bacon, smoked sausages and even fish, from as far as Portugal, Mexico and Brazil are finding their way in some of our multinational shopping outlets,” he said.
Zimba said allowing the importation of processed meat and other meat products goes against the resolve to protect the domestic value chains against cheaply imported products which was a signal that something was very wrong.
He said it was inconceivable to land such products cheaper in Zambia than the locally produced products.
Zimba said the subsidies extended to primary producers at source was the main cause of such uneven playing field, thereby hindering growth of the domestic livestock industry.
“We cannot emphasise more on how important the livestock industry is to many of our farmers as a source of livelihood and the country’s diversification agenda. For as long as we continue approaching extremely important national agricultural issues such as putting a lid on needless imports in a nonchalant manner, we should forget about diversification; and about being the regional agriculture hub,” he said.
Zimba said ZNFU was worried that the country continued to have individuals that were averse to the growth of the local agriculture industry.
“For it is clear from the way issuance of import permits have been conducted that such offices have their hearts elsewhere. It is not rocket science that with continued imports of processed meats and meat products, we are creating jobs in countries where these products are coming from. And, the much needed foreign exchange will continue being taken to countries whose products we keep promoting thus aggravating further currency depreciation,” he said.
Zimba said at the rate of issuance of those import permits, loss of investments in the livestock sector, which has painstakingly grown over the years was eminent.
“ZNFU is not promoting protectionism, but how can we allow processed meats and meat products that we can ably produce, to land on our markets and disadvantage our own products and sector? This requires through investigations. We humbly appeal to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock to quickly arrest this situation before we lose our livestock sector to unfair foreign competition,” said Zimba.
“We are ready to share a platform with the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock by conducting a tour of these multinational outlets selling cheaply imported processed meats and meat products at low prices.”