Bariadi East MP on the United Democratic Party (UDP) ticket John Cheyo has blasted the government and a section of the public for tendencies of embracing negative feelings against local cattle herders, saying such behaviour should be discarded.
The opposition legislator strongly condemned the behaviour on late Thursday evening when MPs were debating the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute Bill, 2011 tabled by the government on Thursday morning for a second reading.
According to Cheyo, some government officials and a section of the public perceive cattle herders and their livestock as a nuisance to the nation. He said the plight facing livestock keepers in the country results from absence of explicit national programmes that focus on streamlining livestock keeping in the country.
“This country and its government have a problem of ‘how to manage plenty.’ When maize farmers record bumper harvest we fail to manage them and when we have a big number of cattle in the country we say herders should reduce them,” he remarked.
He said apart from absence of explicit national programmes to streamline livestock keeping, many grazing fields (pastures) in various parts of the country have been turned either into game reserves or hunting blocks, leaving cattle herders with no fields for their animals to feed on.
He said research should be conducted by livestock research institutions on the possibility of allowing cattle to graze harmoniously with wild animals as it is the case with Ngorongoro district where livestock live side by side with wild animals.
He said if the government had programmes geared towards streamlining the sector Tanzania could be exporting packaged meat (beef) to the Middle East and some neighboriung countries such as DR Congo, considering the fact that the country in ranked third in Africa in numbers of livestock.
“Livestock keepers are rich people. Just take an example, my friend Michael Lekule Laizer (CCM-Longido) recently sold a single bull at Sh 1.5 million. How rich is a person who has lets say 1000 cattle,” he demanded.
Madgalena Sakaya ( CUF- Special Seats) who shared Cheyo’s sentiments, said it was sad today to learn that pastoralists have no place to take their grievances as government executives see them as troublemakers in their areas.
“Today we see livestock keeping as a sector that has no contribution to the country’s economic growth. All this is a result of negligence and absence of programmes to govern the sector,” she said.
She added: “When I was still young I used to eat packaged meet (beef) from Tanganyika Parkers in Dar es Salaam and other packaged meet from Mbeya and Mwanza. But today we have nothing left because we ‘killed’ all meet processing industries.”
The Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Dr. Mathayo David Mathayo and his deputy Benedict ole Nangoro said the concerns raised by MPs would be given proper responses when the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) starts its duties.
On Thursday evening the House passed the bill called the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute Bill, 2011 that aims at establishing TALIRI.
The functions of the institute include carrying out research on livestock breeding development and promotion of high yielding breeds, production, processing, storage, utilization and marketing of animal product and by-products.
Other functions are to carry out research on pasture and forage development, management and utilization of livestock nutrition, including feeding and feedstuff evaluation.
Also in the list of functions are carrying out research on animal husbandry aspects, including animal welfare and organic livestock farming. TALIRI is set to have a director general appointed by the president. The government is yet to earmark the place where to build its premises, but official sources say that Mpwapwa in Dodoma Region, with a long ranching history, is up on the preference list.