AGRISERVE & CZECH PAVILION INTERVIEW: “The Czech Ministry of Agriculture and Mendel University have provided both financial and technical support to Zambia’s small scale livestock farmers“

1)    Can we start with some background on the Agri Serve Agro and the services that you offer in the sector…
Agriserve Agro Limited is the specialized in; Animal health, Veterinarian Services, Animal Handling Facilities, Pasture Development, Energy and Reproduction Services throughout the country. With the help of the Czech Republic, a network of capacity building projects aimed at training small scale farmers was conducted in 2018. Topics covered were; Animal Health & Farm Management, Dairy Farming and Reproduction, Artificial Insemination and Pasture Development all carried out at the Czech Centre of Excellence.

Caption: Gate of Czech Centre of Excellence

2)    What have been the highlights for your organisation during the last 12 months.
•    Consistent supply of livestock products and services to mainly emerging and commercial farmers. Slowly penetration of the small scale livestock sector.
•    Successful partnership with Mendel University and the Czech Ministry of Agriculture and the establishment and development of the Czech Centre of Excellence. This partnership has enriched the Czech Centre of Excellence Cattle Ranch.
•    Capacity Building – Trained over 250+ Small Scale farmers in conjunction with Mendel University in Czech Republic conducted five different livestock capacity building workshops namely; Animal Health & Farm Management, Dairy Farming and Reproduction, Artificial Insemination, Synchronization and Pasture Development, Fodder production & Agroforestry.
•    Sold over 500 bags of Brazilian Briaciaria & Panicum seed varieties in our efforts to improve livestock pasture in Zambia. We have successfully improved the environment by promoting tree planting and the pasture planting coverage of over 400+ hectares. This seed not only provides food during Zambia’s dry season when irrigated because it is drought resistant and has two important qualities. Brazseed Brachiaria has automatic nitrogen fixing properties that it introduces into the soil and improves its nutrient content. Secondly it has a natural herbicide in the leaves that helps to keep away insects and pests normally found in highly concentrated livestock locations.
•    Successfully promoted the use of clean energy via our solar solutions.

3)    Any particular projects in the agri sector in Zambia and the region that you are involved in currently that you are excited about?
Working to forge an alliance with Dairy Association of Zambia (DAZ) in our attempt to increase access of livestock services to all 6027+ small holder dairy farmers across Zambia. This aims to be Zambia’s first private sector led animal health cover scheme for small scale farmers. Aimed at dairy cooperatives each dairy farm group contributed individually and benefit more access to Agriserve Agro Limited’s Livestock extension services. For example, herd health plans, Artificial Insemination of entire DAZ milking heard to guarantee continued milking via more efficient AI conception rates.

Increase Access to Livestock Services for Small Scale Farmers:
Agriserve Agro Ltd is working to consolidate a colossal deal by partnering with a world renowned Chinese company who is able to manufacture livestock medicines which maintains a good quality at half the cost. This will facilitate to bridge the gap between commercial and small scale farmers in the sense that small scale liver farmers will be able to afford livestock medicines and services. They will no longer need to rely on the government alone in eradicating infectious diseases and also fight ticks, tick borne diseases and deworm cattle more frequently with Agriserve Agro’s introduction of affordable animal remedies.

4)    How important is Africa as a business destination for Agri Serve Agro?
Zambia is well placed in Africa and establishing offices both in Zambia and South Africa, Agriserve Agro stands to gain in two ways. Firstly, South Africa is Zambia’s biggest trade partner and in agriculture many cross border TAX subsidies and exemptions exist, especially with firms and governments existing in the SADC and COMESA regions.

Secondly with COMESA and SADC combined countries in trade sees Zambia at the helm of future agribusiness in Africa. Not only the increased livestock production by the increased access to livestock services by Agriserve Agro, but also through the small holder livestock transformation via diversification of livestock farming to increase small holder vegetable and various cash crop production made possible by foreign investment in the sector.

Agriserve Agro’s already existing partnership with the Czech Republic is an example of how this is possible. The Ministry of Agriculture and Mendel University in Czech Republic have provided both financial and technical support to small scale livestock farmers in 2018.

5.  What in your view are the main challenges to the sector in the region? And the opportunities?
•    Average distance for small scale farmer to gain access to livestock services is 50kms+
•    No reliable established agrivet dealer distributors across Zambia
•    No Agriculture Trade Shows targeted at Small holder livestock farmers
•    Poor Government budget allocation for livestock sector
•    Corruption is common and ease of doing business can be tribal, political or traditional methods are mostly favoured, new agriculture methods need to be introduced at local level in local languages.

•    Subsector opportunities for the livestock sector
•    Poultry feed production, processing, breeding, packaging and cold storage
•    Beef cattle ranching – Cow -Calf Breeders, Feed production, Feedlots and Pasture Development - Irrigated pasture cultivation for sale in dry season to dairy farmers.
•    Cold Beef Storage in rural areas, Mobile abattoirs
•    Dairy sector – New Privately owned Milk Collection Centers both physical and mobile
•    Agroforestry – Forest restoration via timber cultivation promoting replacement of trees. Promotion of nurseries & tree propagation for livestock farmers.
•    Clean Energy – Converting Waste (Manure) to Energy (Biogas) and organic fertilizer. Untapped manure deposits as Zambia has over 5.2million cattle, as well as pigs and poultry who all produce manure contributing heavily to greenhouse gas emissions.
•    Over 1million hectares is fertile and ready for agriculture.
•    Zambia has 5 neighbors who rely on us for trade and there is lots of room for foreign investment in agriculture.
•    Zambia is a peaceful country with cheap labour in the rural areas.

6)    What inspires you about working in the agri sector?
Zambia has so much potential and with a growing population, we have an opportunity to grow an agricultural generation that Zambia in terms of food production and security can be self-sustainable.

7)    You are the organiser of an official Czech pavilion at Agritech Expo Zambia – please tell us more about the Czech expertise and specialised products for the agri sector that visitors to the event will be able to see and experience.  

Czech Pavillion Partners  Products  Website
Farment Agricultural machinery
Zetor tractors   Tractors
Chovatelske druzstvo Impuls    Breeding Cooperative Impuls
VVS Vermerovice    Animal Nutrition
EURO BAGGING Livestock Feed Storage
Agriserve Agro Ltd         Animal Health, Pasture Development,
Veterinary Services, Energy,
Animal handling Equipment,
Tractors, Farming Equipment
& Trailer Suppliers,
MENDELU Czech Centre Of Excellence    Livestock farming & Agroforestry
Technical Advisors