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August 07, 2008

Tanzania's livestock sector faces stiff challenges

Experts in anzania's  livestock sector have been challenged to offset the barriers that frustrate livestock trade at home and abroad. Last year, the then Minister for Livestock Development, Mr Anthony Diallo, said with an 18.8 million-strong herd of cattle Tanzania came third in Africa in respect of cattle population after Ethiopia and Sudan. “However, despite having such a huge herd Tanzania did not perform well in exports of cattle and their products.
He also gave the example of Botswana, a southern Africa nation that had a much smaller herd but featured more prominently on the world market for cattle and their products. He also said that Tanzania had huge pastureland but pastoralists kept migrating.

He said 98 per cent of Tanzanian cattle were predominantly the traditional small-value zebu or boran stock, which is raised by peasants who are also small-scale subsistence farmers. Most of them have no skills in improved animal husbandry, he said. Diallo said the best high-value variety of cattle was the brick red Mpwapwa. Unfortunately, although Mpwapwa cattle had higher nutritional value, their multiplication remained difficult and largely unpopular.

Other improved stocks of cattle include Ufipa (which are raised on ranches in Rukwa Region); Iringa Red (in Iringa Region); Mbulu (in Arusha and Manyara Regions) and Ankole (in Kagera Region).

The government will also distribute 85 hybrid Mpwapwa bulls to Iramba, Igunga, Mvomero and Simanjiro districts. Livestock research institutes at Mpwapwa, Uyole and Tanga will be financed to boost their effort on raising better diary cattle breeds.

Mr Diallo called upon researchers in livestock development to ensure that barriers that impinge upon the sector are brought down. The meeting had brought together university professors, expert livestock development researchers and prominent cattle keepers.

An official from the Department of Livestock Research, Training and Extension Services in the Ministry of Livestock Development, Dr David Sendalo, said conservation and use of indigenous cattle breeds were vital in the quest to respond to the changing production environment. Adapted livestock, he added, are more resistant to diseases and environmental challenges.

“They can maintain productivity without the need for higher value inputs,” he observed. They also increase farm income and contribute to poverty alleviation. He said interactions between genetic traits need to be addressed in order to promote resistance to parasites.

According to Dr Sendalo, infections and parasitic diseases among livestock herds remain formidable constraints that frustrate profits in the livestock trade. “Diseases reduce incomes directly by causing considerable livestock losses,” he pointed out.

He told the meeting that it was envisaged that the growth rates for processed products “would probably be higher than the growth rates for meat and milk production in the near future. Important technological developments have already taken place in research institutions, he said.

“The presence of dairy plants and slaughter houses in producing areas is likely to play an important role in stimulating market oriented production,” he observed. Trading of vacuum packed meat and pasteurized milk over long distances needs high-tech tools, he noted.

The current Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Mr John Magufuli, told the National Assembly early this month that the country has a shortage of 13,469 extension workers in the livestock sector – mainly at village level. He, however, informed the House that 1,006 livestock management diploma course students would graduate this year. Tengeru Institute trains 402 students; Mpwapwa (232); Morogoro (231); Madaba (69); Temeke 43 and Buhuri 29.

The institutes would enroll a total of 1, 185 livestock management trainees next financial year, the minister said. Current statistics show that Tanzania has more than 18.8 million head of cattle; 13.5 million goats, 3.6 million sheep and 1.4 million pigs.

Tanzania is also home to 33 million indigenous chickens and 20 million modern breed ones. The average annual consumption of meat for every Tanzanian stands at 11 kilos.The consumption of milk stands at 41 litres and that of eggs has been pegged at 64. Consumption of fish is estimated at 6.9 kilos per person.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommends that annual average consumption of meat per person be 50 kilos; 200 litres of milk; 300 eggs and 10.96 kilos of fish.

The Livestock Training Institute (LTI) in Mpwapwa continues to investigate the prevalence of cattle diseases including Rift Valley Fever, Tuberculosis and miscarriages among cattle (Brucellosis) in ranches especially at Kongwa in the Central Zone.

The Officer In-charge at LITI, Dr Deogratius Mukangi, told President Jakaya Kikwete last year, that his institute faced a serious shortage of workers. He said there were only five veterinary doctors, three livestock field officers and two technicians.He said these workers had an unmanageable workload and needed support. He also told the president, who was visiting, that the institute was also short of reagents, chemicals and other laboratory paraphernalia.

Mukangi said workstations were constantly short of funds. He reported that in 2006, the institute diagnosed 1,638 cattle in Mpwapwa and Kongwa ranches and discovered that 293 of them carried Brucellosis fever, an ailment that is easily passed over to humans. The institute also diagnosed 210 residents for Brucellosis in Mpwapwa District and detected infections in 17 people. Dr Mukangi said all the affected people were treated successfully.

Meanwhile, the government is working on the Grazing Land and Animal Feed Resources Act, a new law that would envisage protection of pasturelands, encourage improved cattle breeding and safeguard against production of harmful, poor quality animal feeds.

Stakeholders in the livestock sector have already met and polished the contents of a Bill for the Grazing Land and Animal Feed Resources Act which seeks better management and control of grazing lands, animal feeds, production of feed additives and trade.

The then Deputy Minister for Livestock Development, Dr Charles Mlingwa, reported at a seminar last year that the new law would take livestock development to greater heights.

He was confident that improvement of livestock quality would trigger the need to improve the quality of pastures and other forms of animal feeds. Statistics indicate that as the human population increases, pastureland diminishes due to expanding human activity, he noted.

“It is this stark reality that has prompted the need to have a Grazing Land and Animal Feed Resources Act,” the deputy minister said. At that moment, there were 40 private farmers who produced and sold hay for feeding livestock.

“These pastoral farmers produce about 200 bales of hay per hectare. They also produce 50 kilos of hay seeds and 100 kilos of legumes per hectare,” Dr Mlingwa informed his audience. He added that production of hay, seeds and legumes was still insignificant.

The hay farmers are in Dar es Salaam, Coast, Morogoro, Tanga and Kilimanjaro regions. Tanzania had 60 small-scale animal feed canning factories that commanded a collective production of between 10 and 60 tonnes a day.

He pointed out the need to increase the number of animal feed factories to attain a production of 700,000 tonnes a year. “The animal feed market would expand gradually once livestock keepers adopt commercial breeding,” the deputy minister said.

The Grazing Land and Animal Feed Resources Act is tailored to protect both the health of livestock (hybrid cows, pigs, sheep, goats and chicken) and human consumers of livestock products such as meat, milk and eggs.

The former PS opined that the new law would challenge livestock keepers to take up improved methods of commercial breeding “which targeted market requirements and was more profitable.” He stressed that this would require higher quality feeds and adequate supplies of water.

He noted that improved livestock breeding was environment friendly because most cattle are normally penned. He insisted, however, that traditional cattle keepers (who mainly rear zebu or Ankole cattle) should be allocated pasturelands to avoid conflicts with farmers.

Until October, 2006, a total of 256,414 cows, 5345 goats, 14,659 sheep, 601 donkeys and 120 dogs had been moved out of Ihefu valley -- a water catchment area in Mbarali District -- as an environment conservation effort.

Pastureland for the cattle keepers evicted from Ihefu and a few other areas has been setaside in 155 villages in 24 Mainland districts. The pastureland covers about 930,276 hectares, he said.

The new pasturelands are in Mbeya, Iringa, Coast, Lindi, Morogoro, Singida, Dodoma, Kagera, Tabora and Kigoma regions. Unfortunately, not every region accepts migratory pastoralists with open hands.

Rukwa Regional Commissioner (RC) Daniel Ole Njoolay is resentful that the migrant pastoralists keep herds that are too large. “A family of migrants keeps between 100 and 300 head of cattle.

“This has pushed the cattle population in Rukwa to an estimated 512,000, ” he lamented recently. In Rukwa, indigenous residents raise a maximum of eight head of cattle. The RC said areas suitable for grazing in Rukwa Region cover 1,536,894 hectares.

“Unfortunately some 339, 952 hectares, which are suitable for both grazing and agriculture, are heavily infested with tsetse flies and are completely inhospitable,” he lamented. The total area for agriculture is 2,357,028 hectares.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) in Dodoma has in the same vein, surveyed 54 plots of land out of the envisaged 300 in Michese, Zuzu and Nala villages for feedlots on which high-quality cattle would be raised.

Smallholder pastoralists would use the feedlots to fatten cattle for slaughter. When complete, the feedlots would cover 2,000 hectares of pastureland. The scheme would produce 250 high-value cattle daily for Dodoma Modern Abattoir.

The CDA Director for Planning, Mr Emson Adamson Mwanamtwa, said recently that the
abattoir, an ultra-modern facility with capacity to slaughter 250 head of cattle daily, handles only 80 bulls a day at the moment.

The cattle the abattoir slaughters are mainly for municipal consumption, however, the bulls are mostly lean, underfed and low-weight. When successful, the scheme would see smallholder cattle breeders raising small herds of high-quality bulls in the feedlots.

The 300 or more feedlots would have a bull population running into several thousands. The scheme would also establish a cattle feed mill, high-quality pasture farms and a bull centre with an artificial insemination department.

Daily News TZ

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