THE Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries has embarked on a strategy to improve the quality and quantity of hides within the country. The on-going strategy has already seen establishment and registration of at least 17 modern skin storage premises (warehouses).
The facilities offer professional storage of the vital animal-based raw materials. In an exclusive interview, the ministry's Acting Director, Production and Marketing, Mr Stephen Michael, said the ministry had also identified, registered and trained at least 113 inspectors in 13 regions.
"Apart from the inspectors, we have also picked and trained a number of skin graders from across the country. Their role is to grade the skin as per their quality," he expressed.
Mr Michael added that throughout the strategy, a total of 1,154 skinners have been trained on recommended skinning methodologies. "We have also supplied them with modern equipment, including more than 500 special skinning knives to help them execute their role more professionally," he informed.
He added that the ministry in partnership with the Prime Minister's Office (Regional Administration and Local Government) was also conducting a country -wide training to veterinary officers and pastoralists on skinning, skin processing and storage. The training, according to him, targets to build capacity of the pastoralists to avert and mitigate numerous livestock skin -based diseases, but also empower the pastoralists to adopt best hybrid livestock with needed hides' potentials.
"For instance, during last year, the government spent at least 3bn/- to distribute antibacterial sprays, including paradox to the livestock keepers from across the country," he detailed.
He said that despite being the second country in the continent with large livestock species, Tanzania has yet to benefit from the leather sector, as at least 45 per cent of skin is being ruined at preliminary stages, often at skinning and processing.
"We have decided to implement this strategy following the fact that at least 90 per cent of home-based skin are still of sub-standard, the situation which is thwarting few available leather plants to produce at their capacities," he unveiled.
In detail, he said Tanzania was currently producing a total of 11.77million pieces of hides in a year, which suffice to produce 60 million pairs of leather shoes. He said the country's annual demand for leather shoes was at 54.5 million pairs. However, he revealed that the economic sector was facing myriad of challenges including massive exportation of pieces of hides, mostly in Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana.
For instance, he detailed that during 2018/19 Tanzania fetched 6bn/- from exportation of skins, whereby during last year the figure rose to 9bn/-.
"Despite earning the country lucrative profits, the major challenge is that, in most part of the country the skins are used for meal purposes hence no need for processing. This move is diluting efforts among local stakeholders in adopting best practices on skinning, processing and storages," he observed.