TANZANIA has reduced meat imports almost three times from 1,401.96 tonnes to 516.63 in a period of one year.
The revelation was made at the ongoing Trade Fair Exhibition 'Sabasaba' in Dar es Salaam by Tanzania Meat Board (TMB) Registration Officer, Mr Geoffrey Sosthenes, contributing that to various measures undertaken by the government to increase local meat production and consumption.
He said the reduction was also attributed to various efforts undertaken by the authority to improve domestic investment environment to attract more investors, besides imposing strict measures to control import of livestock-related products and instead stimulate exports.
Mr Sosthenes said that in 2017/2018 the country imported 1404.96 tonnes of meant, but in 2018/2019 it dropped to 516.63 tonnes.
"Meat exports for 2018/2019 were 1,759 tonnes worth 3.9m US dollar and this reduction is a huge success, because when imports are high, it means the country's production capacity is low and that raises meat production," noted the Registration Officer.
Mr Sosthenes further said that Tanzania produced 679,992 tonnes of meat in 2017/2018 and in 2018/2019 it produced 690,629 tonnes, seen as an increase of 1.6 per cent.
The Registration Officer said that according to statistics from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Tanzania is the second country in Africa with high in livestock numbers.
As a result, Mr Sosthenes noted that that has various meat factories to spring up in the country, citing some as Tanchoice meat processing factory in Coast Region that has the capacity to slaughter 100 cows per shift and 4500 goats on daily basis.
The list also included construction of more meat processing factories at Longido, Morogoro, Chato and Ruvu which are in the process. However, he said that despite meat imports continuing to drop, exports would increase after the completion of the meat processing factories.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Tanzania has 30.5 million cows, 18.9 million goats, 5.56 million sheep and 38.59 million traditional chickens by 2016/17.
Launching the pilot project for the production of meat at Chobo Investment factory located in Misungwi District, Mwanza Region last year, the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Luhaga Mpina directed the Tanzania Meat Board and the Department of Veterinary Services to conduct a new assessment to review meat import permits to protect the local market.
The minister said that it does make sense to import tonnes of meat, while the country has a large livestock population.
Mr Mpina said the assessment would help his ministry to decide whether there was a need to continue issuing permits for imports from outside the country or not.
According to the ministry, Tanzania imports meat from different countries including Kenya, Dubai, South Africa, England and Belgium. In another development, Mr Sosthenes said TMB was also taking measures to ensure hygiene and safety in the meat processing industry.
He said survey conducted in various butcheries showed that most of them were below standards, adding: "This is attributed to low response by butchery owners to register their business."
The Registration Officer further said that so far there were 1, 040 butcheries which have been registered as per the law, adding: "These butcheries are the ones which have met all the required standards."