6 November 2017

Tanzania: Red Meat On the Verge of Disappearance

SCIENTISTS predicting acute shortage of beef and other red meats by 2032, with the dearth likely to hit mostly Tanzania.

The scientists list serious causes behind the shortage like bohemian ways of grazing cattle, rapidly shrinking land for pastures, conflicts between livestock keepers, land grabbing by investors, wildlife encroachments, drought, disappearance of water sources and emerging animal diseases.

Increasing conflicts that pit livestock keepers against land tillers also contribute in the deteriorating meat production in the country.

The Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Mr Abdallah Ulega, said Tanzania produces just 400,000 tonnes of meat per year and the commodity prices keep rising up, with many citizens already completing 12 months without eating meat.

He was speaking at the just ended 40th Annual Scientific Conference, which the Tanzania Society of Animal Production (TSAP) had organised here.

"Meat is no longer part of the usual food but a luxury and expensive item for the rich," said the Deputy Minister during the gathering, adding that, even the quality of meat being produced in the country leave a lot to be desired.

TSAP Chairperson, Dr Daniel Komwihangilo pointed out that, local herders spent huge amount of money, time and energy in caring for their livestock but through outdated methods, incurring loss for proceeds from the sales of meat and milk hardly cover for the costs of inputs.

Mr Ulega later travelled to Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro District where he met local Maasai pastoralists at Ololoosokwan village. The pastoralists complained that lack of reliable markets for their cattle, the situation that prompts them to send the livestock to Kenya where they sell at low prices.

Official data indicates that indigenous pastoralists contribute 80 per cent of Tanzanian red meat production while commercial ranches, with less than one per cent of cattle, add six per cent of red meat production in the country.

With 21.3 million cattle, 15.2 million goats and 6.4 million sheep, Tanzania is ranked third in Africa after Ethiopia and Sudan in the number of livestock, with 98 per cent being local breeds belonging to nomadic pastoralists and kept mainly under traditional grazing system.

The breeds are known for their ability to survive and remain productive even under harsh environments with poor feed resources and diseases.

Local breeds are widely hyped as the right variety to withstand the effects of climate change.

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