ZAMBIA NATIONAL FARMERS’ UNION
THE ZNFU COMMENTS ON THE ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION BILL, ANIMAL HEALTH BILL, AGRICULTURE (FERTILIZERS AND FEED) (AMENDMENT) BILL, CATTLE CLEANSING (REPEAL) BILL, TSETSE CONTROL (REPEAL) BILL AND THE CATTLE SLAUGHTER (CONTROL) REPEAL BILL, 2010
PRESENTED TO THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND LANDS
26th JULY 2010
Our country Zambia is well placed to sustain a much larger number of cattle than at present. The country has one of the smallest cattle populations in the region. The comparatively small population contrast with Zambia’s outstanding natural advantages for rearing of cattle. The area of grazing land in Zambia is comparable to Kenya’s (21.3 million hectares), Botswana’s (25.6 million hectares) and over twice that of Zimbabwe’s (12.1 million hectares. Zambia has four times more grazing (20.3 million hectares) than arable (5.2 million hectares) land and much of its grazing land is ideally suited to cattle rearing.
According to statistics, rural poverty stands at around 80% while urban poverty is around 34%. However, it is also observed that poverty levels are low amongst rural households rearing livestock.
In view of the above Zambia has all the reasons to develop the livestock sector and therefore needs laws and institutions that will compliment the abundant favorable natural resources to cattle rearing. It is for that reason that the farmers have taken keen interest in bills that are before parliament on livestock and have the following observations:
THE ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION BILL, 2010
1. Appointment of Registrar of Animals Identification and other staff; article 5. (1)(c)
Seize any animal or object in respect of which the Registrar has reasonable grounds to believe this Act has been contravened.
It is observed that the reasonable grounds could be interpreted differently which leaves room for misinterpretation and an appropriate phrase need to replace the words reasonable grounds or drop the words “reasonable grounds” completely.
2. Appointment of Registrar of Animals Identification and other staff; article 5. (3)
Where no criminal proceedings are instituted in connection with any item seized under subsection (1), or if it appears that such item is not required at any trial for the purpose of evidence or an order of court, the Registrar shall return that item as soon as possible to the person from whom it was seized.
The words “as soon as possible” leaves room for abuse as owners of the seized items could be denied access by taking too long to return the items. There is need to specify the time limit from the time it is determined that no criminal proceedings would be instituted in connection with seized item and when they should be returned.
3. Appointment of Registrar of Animals Identification and other staff; article 5. (4)
After the conclusion of criminal proceedings, an item seized pursuant to subsection (1) and which served as an exhibit in proceedings in which a person was convicted, shall be handed over to the Registrar to be destroyed or otherwise dealt with as instructed by the registrar.
The criminal court should be the one to have powers to give an order or instructions to the registrar to destroy or handle according to the ruling. Letting the registrar who is not the court to give instructions on how the goods should be dealt with after court ruling without regard of the court order or judgment would be usurping powers of the court.
1. Validation of identification mark; article 9.
An identification mark is valid for a period of five years from the date of its allocation
Why should animal identification mark expire when vehicle registration numbers do not expire and are not renewed? This close will bring unnecessary costs and inconveniences to farmers who will be required to renew the identification mark every five years.
In the similar manner, we submit that the whole article 10 which is on renewal of identification mark be removed. There is no need of renewal of an identification mark as if it is a trading license or a fitness certificate on a motor vehicle.
2. Duties of owners of animals; article 11 (2) (b)
A person shall not sell, barter, give away or in any other manner, dispose of an animal unless “that person furnishes the registrar with details of the transfer of animal”
In practice this will be very difficult to implement as animals are sold/bartered on a regular basis when farmers have problems to sort out. It will bring a lot of difficulties to each time inform the registrar when you want to dispose of an animal. The documents of transfer under 11(3) given by the seller to the buyer are enough.
3. Cancellation of certificate of registration of identification mark; article 13 (2) (b) (c)
The registrar shall cancel the certificate of registration of an identification mark issued under this Act if (b) the validity of the certificate of registration expires; or (b) the holder of the certificate of registration commits an offense under this Act or any other law
The identification mark should not expire therefore article 13 (2) (b) should be removed. On article 13 (2) (c), the purpose of an identification mark is to identify the animals and also for traceability purpose. If the holder of certificate of registration commits an offense under this act or any other law but obtained the identification mark in the lawful manner, why should the certificate of registration of identification mark be cancelled? That person is still keeping animals that need to be identified. It’s like when you commit a traffic offense or any offense in the law the registration number for your vehicles is cancelled.
4. Offenses related t markings of animals; article 18 (a)
Marks or allow an animal to be marked with a mark which is not an identification mark registered under this act commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years, or to both.
Some animals will have markings on them that were made before enactment of this legislation. There is no provision for these markings and it will be difficult to identify when these markings were made. There should be a provision for markings made before this act was enacted.
In addition not allowing cattle to carry any other identification marks (Part 3, 18) would be contrary to efficient and sustainable management practices which are already in place in herds under progressive management, such as where registered pedigree cattle carry Herd Book Society of Zambia individual identification ear tattoos, and in efficient and progressive cattle operations where cattle are identified for management purposes with ear notches and year brands.
COMMENTS ON THE ANIMAL HEALTH BILL, 2010
1. Powers of officer; article 5 (a)
An officer may at any reasonable time, enter upon and inspect any land, building or premises where animals, animal products, animal by-products, articles or animal feed may be found or processed for the purpose of inspection and data collection
To wording “any reasonable time” will be a point of contention and may allow infringe on rights to privacy. A reasonable time may mean something may not be reasonable to someone. There is need to strike a balance between allowing an officer to carry out his duties and at the same time without fringing on the rights of other citizens.
2. Powers of veterinary officer; article 6 (3)
Where a veterinary officer detains, treats, dispose of or destroy an animal, animal product, animal by-product, article or animal feed under sub section (2), the veterinary officer shall, as soon as is practicable, notify in writing, the owner of the animal, animal product, animal by-product or article of the steps taken and the reasons there for.
There is need to specify the time period when the owner of the animal, animal product, animal by-product or article can be notified in writing the steps and reasons for taking that action. Reasons actually must be given to the owner before the action is taken. There is no mention in the legislation for the need to inform the owners on the reasons for such action. There is need for the owners to understand why certain actions are taken otherwise they would consider such actions as victimization.
3. Release, seizure and destruction; article 8 (1) (b)
Where a veterinary officer reasonably believes that it is not necessary to destroy an animal, animal product, animal by-product or article seized, the veterinary officer shall (b) release the animal, animal product, animal by-product, article, animal feed or property to its lawful owner on conditional payment of any charges incurred, in connection with its impounding or other measures taken by the veterinary officer.
Why should the owner of the animal pay for cost related to the seizure conducted by the veterinary officer when there is no problem discovered but was based on suspected risk. The owners of animals will be victimized in this case. Where there is no problem discovered or the veterinary officer reasonably believes that it is not necessary to destroy an animal, animal product, animal by-product or article seized, the owner should not be punished by paying charges incurred in connection with the impounding or other measures taken by the veterinary officer.
GENERAL PROVISIONS ON CONTROL OF ANIMAL DISEASE
1. Restriction on bee keeping; article 56
A person shall not import or export honey, bee or hive products or run, keep or maintains a bee keeping farm or enterprise for purposes of sale without a permit from the director.
It will be discrimination for bee farmers to get a permit for bee farming when other farm enterprises do not get permits to engage in those farming activities. In terms of practicality, it would be difficult for traditional bee keepers to get permits from the directors for bee keeping. If any permit should be required, it should be for honey traders that need to have permits.
THE ANIMAL DISEASE CONTROL FUND
1. Establishment of Animal Disease Control Interdisplinary Committee; article 67 (2)
The committee shall consist of the following members who shall be appointed by the minister:
(a) The permanent secretary in the ministry responsible for livestock development, who shall be the chairperson; and
(b) One permanent secretary each from the ministries responsible for:
(i) Home affairs;
(ii) Local government;
(v) Health; and
The committee has not taken into account of other stakeholders in the industry such as farmers, traders, abattoirs owners and butcheries who are key to the animal disease control. The stakeholders should have an input in the animal disease control fund if the fund is to attract a lot of donors/contributors.
1) Registration fees:
(i) Every animal has to be registered with “registrar” at an as yet prescribed fee.
(ii) If the animal gets to 5 years old it has to be registered again also at a fee.
(iii) Every animal sold has to be transferred, with a transfer form; this will definitely attract some fees
(iv) The new owner has to then transfer the animal into their name, this will attract some fees
(v) All farmers will have to register to be able to brand their own animals this will attract fees
(vi) All brand numbers will have to be registered this will attract fees
(vii) All animals sold and correctly transferred with all paperwork, can be published in newspaper and this is yet another cost
All these cost structures highlighted above and other hidden logistical costs will be an added burden to the agriculture sector which will make it uncompetitive. There is need to simplify the whole process in order for the farmers and other affected stakeholders to see this piece of legislation as the one which helps the development of the livestock industry. As it is now, it is more of a burden and this will bring complications in terms of compliance.
2) It is undefined at what age all animals must be branded
3) Fees charged are not specified, there is need for fees to be standardized across the country and not by local bodies i.e. district vet departments to come up with their own fees.
4) Unless the system is computerized with a central data base, it will be a waste of time and open to fraud. In view of the very wide spread of cattle in Zambia, to the remote parts of the country where there are a very large part of the country's cattle population, it will be very hard to implement this Bill effectively.
5) The animal identification bill, 2010 and the animal health bill, 2010 give very wide and too much powers to officials who could use it to pressurize soft and easily accessed targets while overlooking or just not being able to reach, questionable cattle operators, or alternatively, high risk owners who need help.
In conclusion, the Union finds it very difficult to support these bills, particularly the animal identification bill, 2010. The complications and difficulties which are likely to arise out of these bills are far much greater than the anticipated remedies.