Ziweto Agrovet, a company that provides veterinary solutions for smallholder farmers across the country, has trained 15 livestock lead farmers in Mzimba North.
The training follows a shortage of livestock extension workers in the district, which has 10 instead of 20.
The farmers, who were selected from Malidadi and Euthini extension planning areas (EPAs), were trained in basic animal healthcare and production.
Speaking during the graduation of the 15, the company’s programmes manager Gilbert Banda said they noticed a critical shortage of veterinary staff in the country; hence, the initiative to close the gap.
He said: “In the areas we are working, one extension worker looks after 26 000 cattle, for example.
“So, the lead farmers will assist their fellow livestock farmers in the absence of veterinary workers and manage livestock diseases.”
He said the project’s aim was to improve income and nutrition among smallholder farmers.
Mzimba North extension and methodology officer Albert Tembo echoed Banda’s sentiments that the district has shortage of livestock extension workers at field level.
He said farmers move long distances to access extension services on livestock.
“Therefore, I ask Ziweto and other well-wishers to train livestock lead farmers in all nine EPAs in Mzimba North,” he said.
The 2019 statistics show that Mzimba North has about 94 000 cattle, 269 000 goats, 1 880 00 local-breed pigs, 16 000 exotic pigs and 1.1 million local chickens.