In southern Zambia,
the threat of a deepening international recession has inspired a team of
researchers, scientists and farmers to come up with improved livestock to help
uplift the livelihoods of small holder farmers. From the town of
Choma, VOA Reporter Sanday Chongo Kabange highlights the improvements being
made to indigenous Zambian chickens and goats.
The Choma-based Batoka Livestock Development
Center is breeding high-producing imported cows and goats to breed with local varieties
that are resistant to disease and high temperatures. The foreign goats and cows will come from
South Africa and other countries within the Southern Africa Development
Community – SADC. Results from the
research will be shared with other countries in the region.
David Mubita is Farm Manager for the Batoka Livestock
Development Center, an extension unit of Golden Valley Agriculture Research
Trust. The center is supported by the Zambian government and donor agencies
like the Swedish Development Agency.
types of goats we keep around are dwarfs," explains Mutiba, "almost the size of cocks. So what we have done is to import some improved goats from down South
(South Africa) where they share a similar environment with Zambia. These,
called Boer Goats, are much heavier than the local goats. By bringing these in, the idea is that the
males are produced and given to farmers for cross breeding with local goats."
says the Batoka Livestock Development Centre plans to sell farmers 300
cross-bred and pregnant heifers. The
effort includes mating improved milk producers with tough local cattle that do
well in tropical climates.
Says Mutiba: "Let’s
produce the right type of animal (cow) for these small scale farmers. By the
right type of animal they [mean cross breeding domestic and foreign cows]: [the foreign ones] are high
producers (of milk) but only under very good conditions and improved
management. The local (indigenous) animal is a low producer but survives under
harsh conditions (non-tropical). So if you cross the two then you get the
productivity of that exotic animal and the hardiness of that indigenous animal…
an animal that can produce reasonably well under harsh conditions."
Center is also working to produce tastier poultry.
are trying to develop a local chicken [that are more tender]," says Mutiba. "What makes them
(local chickens) so tough is the search for food. So we (want to) give [our local chickens is] an
environment where food is provided for them and let’s see what happens."
Farm Manager and lead researcher Bernard Muntanga elaborates on what the
chickens will be fed.
the texture of the meat," he says, "we want to make it so soft so that people can enjoy it
[without] running to GMO (genetically modified organisms). What we are doing is
feeding these (local) chickens on high protein legumes which they are eating to
improve their build up."
says chickens fed on protein-rich legumes grow as fat, and as quickly, as those
fed on (GMO) grains.
than conducting research on poultry and livestock, the
Batoka Livestock Development Centre has partnered with a local anti-AIDS group
known as Kara Counseling.Together, they
are helping 20 people affected by HIV / AIDS by providing them with chickens produced
at the centre that are improved, and easy to care for.
centre has also availed improved heifers to some widows.The women must agree to pass on young calves
to other widows after the cows have given birth.
So far, thousands of Zambian small holder
farmers, people living with HIV, widows and orphans have benefited.Officials from the research center say they
plan to spread this project to the rest of the country by the end of 2009.