President Edgar Lungu said government is actively exploring the Saudi Arabia market for small livestock – goats and sheep.

Speaking at the 12th National Assembly under theme “Moving towards prosperous Smart Zambia in peace and tranquillity without leaving anyone behind, President Lungu said the sector has potential, as a diversification tool.

The President said livestock sector has potential to contribute to wealth creation and poverty reduction.

“Given our abundant water and pasture land, the sector has great potential to drive our diversification agenda. Saudi Arabia alone, has expressed interest to import over one million goats and sheep from Zambia per annum,” Lungu said.

Government is constructing livestock service centres of modern infrastructure for livestock breeding, milk collection and satellite artificial insemination service centres.

“We now have 16 livestock breeding centres across the country. Out of these, four centres namely Kanchindu in Sinazongwe, Mbesuma in Chinsali, Mukulaikwa in Shibuyunji and Kanyama in Mwinilunga are now offloading improved breeding stock to eligible beneficiaries.”

Meanwhile, the Zambia Goats and Sheep Task Force (ZGSTF) has finalised all administrative works for the facilitation of goats and sheep exports to Saudi Arabia.

This comes after a taskforce comprising of Ministries of Livestock and Fisheries, Agriculture, Commerce, Trade and Industry and the representatives from the private sector was formed to develop a roadmap that will help expedite the process of goat and sheep commercialisation in Zambia.

David Chonde, ZGSTF Secretary said the taskforce is currently, waiting for a delegation from Saudi Arabia to formalise the modalities for the goats and sheep commercialisation process.

“We are at an advanced stage with the implementation of the goats and sheep export to Saudi Arabia. We just want ensure that we satisfy their market requirement,” Chonde said.

The initiative will help small-scale farmers penetrate other markets and increase their income levels

“We want this programme to be private sector-driven. Farmers are being encouraged to create strong cooperatives so that they can come up with good business investment plans. Currently, we are sensitising all stakeholders on the importance of the commercialisation programme,” Chonde said.

Zambia’s goat population is estimated to be at about 4.8 million and over 150,000 sheep.

Currently, the sector contributes about 3.6 percent to the overall gross domestic product and 42 percent to the agricultural gross domestic.