Graduating students in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Zambia have appealed to government to support them in utilising their skills appropriately for the benefit of the country.

The graduands cited lack of employment as a challenge they are mostly faced with.

They expressed their concerns during their 20th prize giving and swearing-in ceremony which was for the first time being held under the Ministry of livestock and fisheries development, a new ministry that started operating in January this year.

Mumba Malama who got three awards amongst them the best sixth-year student said it was unfortunate that a good number of Veterinary students were graduating but no employment was readily available to them.

"I am happy that we have graduated, it is an exciting thing but unfortunately we have no employment. I can tell you that three intakes that graduated before us are still unemployed. The new ministry should look at us students who have graduated and they should give us hope by providing us with job opportunities," Mumba said.

Mumba who was one of two females that managed to graduate urged other girls to take up challenging courses.

"Managing to finish my studies was a challenging task because this profession is not easy. But being here has shown me that no matter how hard something is, a woman can do it. As women we should not over look our capabilities but we should strive to take up even the most challenging tasks," advised Mumba.

Another award recipient Chisanga Mwamba bemoaned the lack of up to date equipment in the school of veterinary medicine.

"The large part in our course is practical but we learnt more in theory because of inadequate learning equipments. We faced problems with having the right drugs for the treatment of animals. I think more attention should be given to this course so that such challenges are not faced by other students," said Chisanga.

Speaking at the ceremony, University of Zambia vice-chancellor Stephen Simukanga urged the students to contribute positively to the agriculture sector.

"As you are aware, the agriculture sector is one of the most important sectors in the country. Meanwhile, it is a fact that the livestock sector has in the past experienced challenges particularly with regard to disease control. We have had a number of disease outbreaks that devastated our farmers particularly the peasant farmers," said Simukanga.

"You can go out there and make a difference. I can assure you that you have been ably equipped for this challenge."

Officiating at the event, minister of livestock and fisheries development Bradford Machila said the ministry was formed after government's realisation about the importance of livestock to the country's economy.

"The ministry was formed to ensure that the potential that this ministry has is fully exploited. My government believes that the veterinary profession is a noble one and all those qualifying must be ready to serve the lives of livestock and the public in general," said Machila.

"I therefore call upon the University of Zambia in general and the school of veterinary medicine in particular to seriously look at the curriculum and incorporate business practices and private entrepreneurship skills. This will enable the future graduands to be equipped with necessary skill to be able to meet the challenge in the field."