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August 14, 2011

Tanzania to improve livestock sector

The move to train farmers in modern livestock keeping is probably one of the government’s most welcome initiatives. It is also long overdue.

With 18.5 million head of cattle, 3.6 million sheep and 13 million goats, Tanzania ranks third in livestock keeping in Africa after Ethiopia and Sudan.

Our huge livestock population notwithstanding, the country has had little to show for it. Tanzanians drink the least milk compared to people in other East African countries. Most of our households consider meat a luxury, to be eaten only during special occasions. Many of our livestock keepers have continued, over the years, to value numbers rather than the quality of their animals.

With only 2.4 million cattle, 2.3 million goats and 370,000 sheep, Botswana boasts higher animal product exports than Tanzania.We have to address quality concerns if we are to compete effectively.

According to Livestock minister David Mathayo, the government will, in the 2011/12 financial year, train 5,000 livestock keepers on quality animal husbandry. That is the way forward, for huge numbers of animals are not only a burden to pastoralists but they are also ruinous to the environment.

Tanzania has the potential to be a global animal products exporter, but that will be realised only when our livestock keepers are informed on improved methods of tending to their animals.

The Citizen

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