ZAMBIA – The outbreak of the Foot and Mouth disease in Zambia has dampened the dairy industry in the country manifested by a decline in milk production and a reduction in the number of the once highly productive animals.

This has in turn reduced the income of majority of the commercial dairy farmers according to Executive manager, Dairy Association of Zambia , Jeremiah Kasalo.

Mr Kasalo notes that once infected with the viral disease, milk production sharply declines from an average of 40 litres of milk per day, to as low as three litres per day having a sour taste which makes it unfit for consumption.

In addition, the movement of cattle has also affected the dairy industry as farmers cannot move animals they bought from other farmers.

Mr Kasalo has appealed the Government through the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock to consider allowing dairy farmers to buy their own vaccine to curb the menace.

He further added that Government veterinary officers should soon start vaccinating the animals as the rainy season is approaching, a time the transmission rate of the disease is high.

As Daily Nation Zambia reports, Kasalo cited load shedding as another challenge facing dairy farmers in the country.

The dairy industry requires cold chain from producer to consumers. However, with the increase in load shedding producers have been forced to use alternatives such as generator sets, which is expensive in terms of fuel.

However, the Government has announced that it will start importing electricity from South Africa to ease the power rationing.

In terms of milk production, Zambia produces 617 million litres annually – which is relatively high compared to an estimated 75 million litres that is collected.

In this regard Kasalo has proposed adoption of measures to ensure Zambia does not import any dairy products citing that the Dairy Association of Zambia plans to establish more milk collecting centres.

“There is need to establish more milk collecting centres in the country. However, we have managed to set up new collecting centres in Mumbwa district,” he said.

In bid to promote consumption of dairy products in the country, he highlighted on the steps needed to be taken especially gearing forward with initiatives such as the school feeding programme.

“As an association we have taken it serious. We are finalising a project with Musika to promote increased consumption of milk and other dairy products in school the feeding programme.”