Thursday, February 8, 2018

YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS: Tanzania: rich in cattle, poor in cattle products


By Karl Lyimo

Here we read that the Ngorongoro Pastoralists Association in Tanzania has asked the government to ‘find’ an investor in meat-packing, arguing that this’d guarantee a reliable market for livestockkeepers. [See ‘Herders want markets for their products;’ TheCitizen: Dec. 27, 2017].

There, we read that ‘a goodly number of 5-star hotels in Tanzania regularly import meat for their business from South Africa, far-off Netherlands and Australia down-under…! [See ‘Why would Tanzania still be importing meat today?’ TheCitizen Editorial: Jan. 28, 2018]. And, over there, we read about a foreign investor in Tanzania (name, etc., withheld) who imports prime beef for sale to classy hotels and supermarkets.

In 2015, he imported tonnes of rumpsteak and topsides, most of that remaining unsold by the May-2017 expiry date! Reportedly, the importer tampered with the ‘manufacturer’s consignment labels, replacing them with fake/contrived ‘new’ expiry dates well into the future – and callously continues to sell the ‘unfit-for-human-consumption’ meat! [See ‘Mzungu auza nyama mbovu;’ ‘JAMHURI;’ Jan. 2, 2018] So, why are some world-class Tanzanian hotels and supermarkets serving and/or selling imported meats – but are also serving unsuspecting customers with dishes that are prepared using imported meat whose ‘expiry date’ has lapsed, pray? Ideally, hospitality establishments should be according top priority as a matter of obligation to ‘local’ meats in the ‘Buy Tanzanian’ mode – if for no other earthly reason, including national interests!

Clearly, that isn’t happening on the ground. Verily, I say: that’s most odd under the prevailing circumstanecs.

Boasting some 26 million head of cattle, Tanzania is home to the third-largest cattle herds in Africa – beaten in that only by Ethiopia (about 54m head) and the Sudan-Khartoum (38m head).

Also, in terms of numbers, Tanzania beats hands-down the Netherlands (3.99m head of cattle) and South Africa (some 14m head). And Tanzania (26m head) is breathing hard down the neck of Autralia (29.29m cattle).

Why, then, would – nay: SHOULD – Tanzania be importing beef from these three countries, while its cattle products lack markets? Why, indeed? The country has formulated well-intentioned policies, legislation and other regulatory frameworks, as well as programmes, strategies and plans – all designed to nurture and develop the livestock industry. Readily coming to mind is the ‘Tanzania Livestock Modernization Initiative’ launched by President Kikwete in July 2015.

The Initiative is/was intended to “support the progressive and adaptive development of a vibrant livestock sector that’s responsive to growing demands and emerging commercial opportunities – and which is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable...”

Other ‘Initiatives’ are the 2006 ‘National Livestock Policy’; regular National Five-Year Development Plans; the Agricultural Sector Development Program; the Kilimo Kwanza Initiative; the National Strategy for Growth & Poverty Reduction (NSGRP/MKUKUTA); the Rural Development Strategy; the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program; Tanzanian Resilient Pastoral Communities Initiative – and the mother-of-them-all: the National Development Vision-2025...!

Yet, none of the initiatives seems to be working, as businesses still flagrantly import cattle products at great cost, using scarce, hard-earned forex! ‘Interested’ parties tell us it’s all a matter of quality standards… If that’s the case: why are (some) establishments brazenly selling expired IMPORTED meats to their hapless customers?

Anyway: for how long will Tanzania continue to be rich in cattle, but poor in cattle products?

What does the Livestock & Fisheries Ministry say to all that, pray? Tears!