The continued issuance of import permits for processed meats and meat products has annoyed the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) which has demanded that the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries immediately explains why it is allowing foreign meat products on the local market.
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba stated, Sunday, that allowing imports of meats and meat products was effectively killing the local livestock and agricultural sector which the government was trying to grow through the diversification agenda as most of the imported products were being sold cheaply.
“The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) is vexed that import permits for processed meats and meat products have continued to be issued, ultimately disregarding to protect our livestock sub-sector against these 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. Allowing the importation of processed meat and other meat products goes against our resolve to protect our domestic value chains against cheaply imported products which is a signal that something is very wrong,” Zimba stated. “It is inconceivable to land these products cheaper in Zambia than our very own locally produced products. The subsidies extended to primary producers at source is the main cause of this 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 stated that its biggest worry was the lack of support to the sector by those charged with the responsibility of running the livestock sector.
“The ZNFU is worried that the country continues to have individuals that are averse to the growth of our 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 flighted to countries whose products we keep promoting thus aggravating further currency depreciation,” stated Zimba.
“At the rate of issuance of these import permits, loss of investments in our livestock sector, which we have painstakingly grown over the years, is 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 thorough 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.”