Sunday, September 3, 2017

Plans afoot to boost export of dairy products

A livestock keeper herds a cattle head along

A livestock keeper herds a cattle head along Morogoro-Dodoma highway at Dumila in Kilosa District last week. PHOTO | FILE 

By Valentine Oforo @TheCitizenTZ news@thecitizen.co.tz

Dodoma. The government is now implementing a Five- Year Dairy Industry Development Plan (DIDP) with the aim of enabling the country to start exporting milk and other dairy products.

For decades, Tanzania has failed to export milk due to poor technological investment in the domestic dairy industry, as well as shortage of improved dairy cattle among indigenous livestock keepers, stakeholders say.

Among the key technological handicaps which deny Tanzania a chance to meet recommended milk exporting standards, is the absence of Ultra-High Temperature Processing (UHT) machines.

But a current initiative under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Development is now seeking to bridge the gap, by installing modern UHT Milk processing machines at Dar es Salaam’s Milkcom Dairy Tanzania and Tanga Fresh milk factories.

UHT is a food processing technology that sterilises liquid food, chiefly milk, by heating it above 135 °C (275 °F) – the temperature required to kill spores in milk – for 1 to 2 seconds.

Tanzania Dairy Board’s (TDB) chief registrar Nelson Kilongozi on Friday told The Citizen on Sunday that after the installation of key machines, the country stands a chance of being able to export milk to external markets. “With current poor technology, we fail to store milk in quality packages with long-life of at least six months before expiring. Milk production is a delicate undertaking, a lot of knowledge and dedication is needed to obtain good results,” Mr Kilongozi added.

He was speaking to The Citizen on Sunday on the sidelines of seminar involving zoo sanitary experts held on Friday in Dodoma.

According to him, the programme is also aimed at scaling up the number of high-breed dairy cattle in the country from the current 780,000 to at least 1.5 million by 2020.

“To achieve this, we are planning for vast artificial insemination of various high-breed dairy cattle among livestock keepers from across the country, but also we are encouraging adoption of modern livestock keeping among Tanzanians engaging into the key sector,” he said.

Due to such a huge deficit in high-breed dairy cattle, he unveiled; Tanzania is currently producing only 2.1 billion litres of milk per year, whereby the country’s annual Liquid Milk Equivalent (LME) importation stands between 17 and 20 million little.

“With the on-going plan, the target, however, is to double the production rate,” he said.

For his part, the director of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Development, Dr Abdu Hayghaimo, gave details over the state of poor milk drinking among Tanzanians.

He said that principally, each individual was supposed to drink at least 200 litres of milk a year but the current trend stood between 45 and 47 litres in Tanzania.

The permanent secretary in the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Development ministry, Dr Mary Mashingo, told The Citizen on Sunday that the country’s livestock keeping industry was facing a myriad of challenges, leading to poor dairy and beef production.

She said most Tanzanians were still maintaining large number of indigenous cattle which are not productive in terms of beef and dairy products.

An expert from the Dodoma-based Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (Taliri) who asked not to be named said that poor agricultural practices have also attributed to many Farm Animal Genetic Resources to either becoming at risk, threatened, extinct or their specific genetic characteristics being diluted.

Apart from hailing the parent ministry for introducing the programme, he said in order to improve livestock populations’ productivity; there should be an effective introduction of appropriate and comprehensive livestock high-breeding programme from across the country.

“There should be an effective programme to attain better performing animals in order to contribute to poverty reduction and improved food security in livestock keeping communities and the country at large while conserving the biodiversity of indigenous livestock populations,” he said in an interview with The Citizen on Sunday.

He spoke over the need for characterisation of indigenous livestock populations and their production environments and increased availability of improved animals (beef, dairy, small ruminants, poultry and pigs) through within, and between-population selection, discriminate crossbreeding as long as introduction of new lines with the emphasis of utilization of artificial insemination (AI) and multiple ovulation and embryo transfer (MOET) technologies.

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