JOEL Lubuva (59) considers himself among the richest men in Dodoma Region. This is simply because he keeps 90 heads of cattle, 75 goats and 57 sheep in his farm located not very far from Kongwa town.
Mr Lubuva is a traditional farmer who keeps on moving with his animals to areas where there is enough grass for pasture and water. During dry seasons, he undergoes a lot of difficulties to feed his livestock.
Surprisingly, he only sends his old and sickly animals to a Tuesday auction market in Kongwa for sale, a move that rarely gives him good price, simply because buyers prefer purchasing fatty and health looking heads of cattle.
You might pity Mr Lubuva when you look at his livestock because most of them look skinny as a result of improper feeding, insufficient drinking water and lack of veterinary officers to provide them with treatment during time of need.
One thing is holding Mr Lubuva back in his struggle to benefit from his animals and this is lack of proper livestock education that would have made them healthy and eventually fetch good prices when auctioning them to different buyers.
He is not alone in this jumble, because majority of livestock farmers in Dodoma are still very traditional, without modern knowledge of rearing livestock. Dodoma regional authorities have seen the situation and they will soon come up with a system whereby livestock keepers will be educated on how to benefit more.
According to Dodoma Regional Commissioner Dr James Msekela, livestock keepers in Dodoma should now reduce their animals scientifically. "Keep few animals that you can feed them well," insists Dr Msekela. He mentions one farmer in Dodoma known as Mahava of Juva holdings who has introduced block farming in the region. This kind of farming sets aside special areas for rearing livestock.
"You cannot keep cows and goats if you don't have necessary services for them, plus enough extension officers. We want all livestock keepers in Dodoma to know that, to enable them generate more income," says Dr Msekela. According to him, there is a need to reduce number of the animals, but add the quality of what someone continues keeping.
Currently, Dodoma Region has an average of two million livestock. He adds that the plan will only be successful if small-scale farmers are trained on how to be more productive and eventually fight poverty which is fast waylaying the region.
Tanzania's national cattle herd is the third largest in Africa at 17 million head - after Ethiopia and Sudan. According to Dr Msekela, the government, with the support of international organisations, is now determined to turn cattle into a major revenue generating resource.
Dodoma recent regional report shows that sales from livestock are a second major source of cash income for many households in the Region. The importance of livestock in the economy of Dodoma Region is evident in the sense that livestock is a major source of protein derived from products (meat and milk) and form a social of insurance and medium for settlement of social and cultural commitments.
According to the report, suitable grazing land is 1,377,000 Ha. (33.3%) of the total area of the Region). The region has an estimated total of 1,600,000 cattle, 954,000 goats, 274,000 sheep and 23,000 pigs and about 1,400,000 poultry. Livestock are of local breeds with low production co-efficient, with cattle producing approximately 2-3 litres of milk per day.
The average age of slaughter (cattle) ranges between 6 and 8 years and the average live slaughter weight range between 200 and 300 kg during the wet season and 150- 250 kg in the dry seasons. Sheep and goat kept by the rural people are generally not for milk purposes and they are grazed extensively with cattle.
Since pasture and water are scarce particularly during the dry period, some livestock keepers are forced to move their livestock outside the region during the dry spell. In some locations, says the report, there is overstocking particularly in the suitable grazing areas, though the situation is further aggravated by poor range management and burning of rangeland and pastures, prevalence of diseases of economic importance, poor marketing network and lack of processing.
The region has so far taken some measures to improve livestock production, including pasture improvement by demarcating pasture land and planting improved pastures, rehabilitation of Veterinary Infrastructures specifically dips, animal health centres and water points.
Other measures include upgrading the local breeds to increase productivity by selection, cross-breeding and use of artificial insemination (AI), multiplication and distribution of Mpwapwa breed, a dual purpose cattle well adapted to prevailing climate and level of management. There has also been the promotion of appropriate livestock husbandry practice with emphasis on proper feeding and disease control.
Enhancing participatory research and extension to meet the real needs of livestock keepers has also been insisted. Despite regional efforts to improve livestock farming, Dodoma
residents ask President Jakaya Kikwete to improve roads and streets in the municipality of Dodoma to tarmac level as he promised during the election campaigns last year. "The main streets in the municipal centre and in Area 'C' and 'D' on the northern fringes need improvement. Our major highways linking the municipality of Dodoma to other regional headquarters should also be paved," says Joseph Kileo who runs a retail shop. The CCM 2010-2015 election manifesto says that the government will continue buying litres
of cattle dip drugs that will be distributed to livestock keepers in the region. The keepers can buy the drugs at 60 per cent of the actual price with the government covering the remaining 40 per cent. Cattle diseases such as CBPP are controlled through a Rollback Plan.
The manifesto further says that vaccination doses will be bought and used in jabbing heads of cattle. The government plans to construct cattle dips. Dr Msekela says that through the Dodoma Livestock Development Project, a beef cattle industry has been established in Dodoma by the construction and operation of the Dodoma abattoir.
The abattoir has a capacity of slaughtering 300 cattle, 200 goats and sheep per day. The new and modern abattoir has created a big demand of live animals to be supplied for slaughter. However, most of the locally available stocks are of poor quality. There is a vast potential for improvements of the traditional livestock sub sector through the adoption of new and advanced production processing and marketing technology.
Opportunities are open to investors on joint venture partnership, including the establishment of ranches in Dodoma for production breeding and fattening or slaughter, as rangeland is available. "Meat processing and packing potential export markets include the Gulf States UAE and Asia can be established.
We can also establish tanneries for the processing of hides and skins; glue from horns hives blood meal and calcium from bones. Most of the meat is intended for consumption in Dar es Salaam with a population of 4 million people, there is a good opportunity for bulk transportation by rail or road," says Dr Msekela.
The Dodoma Abattoir is seen as a liberator to Dodoma livestock keepers in Dodoma, because of the good price it offers, unlike other areas where greedy business people cheat them at auctioning marts (minada).
According to a National Investments Company (NICO) statement, Dodoma Abattoir slaughters 200 cattle and 200 goats per day in two shifts of eight hours. Adjacent to the abattoir is a holding ground and a feedlot which is capable of holding cattle in the neighborhood of 500 animals.
NICO says that the abattoir comprise a modern abattoir building equipped with processing equipment, electric generator (standby) water storage tanks, chiller, freezer, air conditioning equipment and all other facilities that are obtained in a modern abattoir.
Besides, there is a boiler building, a water borehole and a number of vehicles, which include a refrigerated 40-tonne Mercedes Benz truck with a trailer. A complete list of assets is available for inspection. The area enclosing the plot on which the abattoir is located is 11 hectares.