Livestock rearing in northern Tanzania. Tanzania boasts huge populations of livestock in Africa, but is least in terms of exports of skins, hides and leather products.
Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) will this year put in its prospectus courses on hides, skins and leather and their products for degree and diploma students so as equip them to venture into the almost dormant sectors.
Speaking in an interview on Sunday from Morogoro, Prof Gabriel Mbasa of SUA said Tanzania is among the largest world livestock keepers, having large populations of cattle, goats and sheep, many of which are slaughtered annually to produce meat, but the resulting hides and skins are exported in raw form.
“We are now preparing a prospectus that will equip the students with knowledge to help them use hides and skins to add values. It’s our aim that the courses would help to increase their earnings from the product,” he said.
Prof Mbassa disclosed that hides and skins produced are traded raw and outside the official channel, adding that in 2010 Tanzania was ninth in terms of export earnings from cattle hides raking in only USD0.598m, which was lower than in the past.
The don also said that the country has large quantities of raw materials for hides, skins and leather.
“Animals slaughtered for meat in 2010 were 2.7 million of cattle, 2.71 million goats and 1.008 million sheep, but the resulting hides and skins were exported in raw form earning very little in economic returns,” he said.
He also said that in 2006 Tanzania exported about 1.5 million hides, 1.4 million goat skins and 0.9 million sheep skins worth USD5.6m.
He insisted: “Measured on the livestock scale, Tanzania is the third, seventh, and seventeenth in cattle, goat and sheep numbers in Africa, however, in terms of skins and leather production and export, it ranks far below and out of the list of producers.”
“Only Egypt, Sudan, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco are in the top 30 producers of leather, the fast developing are Ethiopia, South Africa and Kenya…..but Tanzania has to learn from these countries if we want to be top producer of leather,” he added.
Prof Mbassa, who is also a researcher, pointed out that leather and leather products are more valuable than other products of which leather is two times costly than meat, five times the value of coffee, sixteen times the value of tea and also eight times the value of rice.
“We are also doing research programme to ensure that hides, skin and leather products are well managed and stakeholders are getting sufficient earnings, the research is sponsored by Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH),: he noted.
Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries’ deputy permanent secretary Yohana Budeba said recently that livestock industry in the country will gain its worth after Sokoine University of Agriculture takes the chance to research on the sector and make it advance.
“We want to make sure that efforts are made to ensure that leather production processing increases and its trading partners including local livestock keepers get profit and not otherwise,” he said.
The deputy PS also said that livestock product exports such as leather, skins and hides are very low due to various reasons including illegal exportation that makes the country to lose many revenues.