Beef cattle are found in Mbala and Mungwi Districts, accounting for 170,000 (10%) of the total cattle population in Zambia. The Province has to import beef and dairy products from other parts of the country to meet the shortfall. This has made beef and dairy products in Northern Province very expensive due to transportation and handling costs. However, the climate, water and the veld, which is a natural pasture, provide a great potential for ranching and dairying as both free-range and pasture-supplemented grazing is possible. The carrying capacity of natural vegetation is 4ha per head. The entire Province itself is already market for beef and dairy products.
Not only is there great potential to produce and market beef and dairy cattle, but also the by-products such as hides, hooves, horns, blood just to mention a few.
Beef and dairy products occupy a very important position in the economy of the country for both local and export markets. Furthermore, cattle provide excellent organic manure that could be commercially processed and used in crop production to reduce dependence on expensive inorganic fertilizers.
Organic manure is also a good ameliorant for highly leached acidic soils such as those of Northern Province. Tanneries and other processing and/or manufacturing industries are all possible if cattle production in the Province was promoted. ZAMBEEF, which is the only competitor in the field of cattle byproducts, gets its raw materials from other Provinces, and even from outside the country. The establishment of a tannery and other processing industries in the Province would ease the pressure that is put on ZAMBEEF.
Sheep and Goats
Sheep and goat farming is a culture that has evolved over many centuries to the rural people of Africa as a whole and to which Zambia (and Northern Province) is not an exception. Therefore, the breeds found in the Province are already acclimatized to the local environment.
The economic importance of sheep and goats is based on the large number of stock that can be kept on a relatively small area. Sheep and goats have an excellent breeding cycle, producing twins (sometimes triplets) per gestation. By the end of the year, one ewe will have given birth at least three times. Fast breeding is an assurance of fat returns on investment.
Sheep and goats are also on record for being resistant to many livestock diseases and are usually reared on extensive management and yet they are able to reproduce at economic levels. As far as the market is concerned, the animals are already accepted in the social system as meat, and are also used at ceremonies.
Of late there has been a demand for goat and sheep from Saudi Arabia and the Government has since entered into an agreement with that country for the exportation of the same. Therefore, Government is encouraging citizens to venture into production of sheep and goat. The other market is the DR Congo who is in constant demand of goat meat. The increasing population in the Northern Province has dictated that sources of meat protein should be diversified.
As far as the local entrepreneurship is concerned, sheep and goat production would be a lucrative venture. An abattoir and processing plants can be established in each District. The prospects for long-term sustainability of the enterprise are good because the demand for beef and pork products in Northern Province and beyond is very high.
There is also isolated eggs production but not enough to meet the demand for most of the eggs products come from Copperbelt Province and supplied mainly through Shoprite. Chicken rearing is also going on at small scale by most household and other established farmers.
The Province boasts numerous water bodies such as rivers, lakes and swamps which provide the basis for extensive freshwater.
However, demand for domestic fish for consumption still outstrips production. The sector, because of its mostly rural setting, continues to contribute significantly to rural development in terms of employment, income generation and poverty reduction. Commercial fishing is being done on Lake Tanganyika and Lake Bangweulu.
Lake Bangweulu is exploited more as a fish source than as a tourist attraction. The fisheries of Lake Bangweulu and Tanganyika are among the largest in Zambia. This has led to some of the highest population densities around the lakes where commercial fisher men have settled.
Fishing is also done by small-scale fishermen who sell their small catches to local traders. Industrial fishing activities are limited to Lake Tanganyika and are associated with production of Kapenta.
All the same, the fishing industry is not economically developed. Inadequate controls and marketing facilities threaten both sustainability and profitability of the industry as a whole.