WITH about 48 hours remaining to the Christmas count-down, it has become increasingly certain that many pork lovers may have to celebrate the birth of Christ without their favourite succulent pork chops on the braai stands as an acute shortage of the delicacy continues due to a ban on the commodity.
The commodity, according to a Daily Mail survey, has become so dear you have to comb several Lusaka butcheries and supermarkets in order to find a decent supply of good cuts.
A number of surveyed restaurants in Lusaka such as The Spur, Wimpy, The Mint Lounge and even some hotels, to mention but a few, are pork-dry.
They do not have the savoury spare ribs, pork chops and bacon in stock, despite listing them on their menus and they are now substituting the delicacy for something else such as mushrooms or beef steak.
The absence of this delicacy is due to the current ban on the movement of pigs and processing of pig products.
“This morning [Friday], I ordered for a full breakfast at Spur Manda Hill, but only to be told the restaurant has run out of bacon due to the ban on the movement of pigs and processing of pig products,” a diner told the Daily Mail in a walk-in interview.
He [diner] said this was not the first time he went to a restaurant and was told there is a shortage of pork products in Lusaka, as well as other parts of the country.
A survey conducted by the Daily Mail in Lusaka on Friday showed that most butcheries and supermarkets have not had pork products for some time.
At Kabwata market, outlets such as JS Butchery did not have pork products, while Zambeef butchery at the same market had some stocks of pork products.
At Levy Junction, Pick n Pay did not have pork products while Food Lover’s Market only stocked Hungarian pork sausages.
The Chibolya makeshift abattoir showed that there were no pigs being slaughtered.
Last month, an outbreak of African swine fever hit Lusaka, killing about 1,682 pigs prompting Government to ban the movement and processing of pigs and pig products in Lusaka to save the pig industry.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Luxon Kazabu maintained last week that the ban is still in effect throughout the festive season.
Mr Kazabu said as at December 15, 8,716 pigs were slaughtered on 33 farms and that the exercise is still on because there are 49 more farms that have recorded the disease.
Many farmers have, however, complained that the ban is a cost on their part as they are not allowed to slaughter pigs and they have to continue feeding even those that are ready for the market.
Mucho Farms proprietor Mildred Hakamangwe said stockfeed for pigs is expensive.
One pig consumes about four kilogrammes (kg) of feed per day and a 50kg bag costs about K110.
About 100 pigs consume eight bags per day at a cost of about K880, meaning that a farmer spends about K6, 160 per week.
Another farmer of Lusaka West appealed to Government to lift the ban especially for those farmers that are free of the African swine fever.
“We urge Government to consider a partial lifting of the ban to enable some of us who have not recorded a trace of swine fever to slaughter and sell.
I have now run out of money to feed the pigs,” she said.
Zambia’s pig population stood at about 900,000 last year, according to the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) estimates.
ZNFU media liaison officer Kakoma Kaleyi, however, could not give the current pig population in the country.
This is the third time the African swine fever has been recorded in Zambia with the immediate past outbreak recorded in 2004. The first outbreak was reported in 1994.
African swine fever is a highly contagious viral disease that can kill 95 to 100 percent of affected pigs.
SOURCE: Zambia Daily Mail