Dr Sinare Yusuf Sinare, Board Chair of Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT) told Smart Money that the government should meet with stakeholders to come up with regulations for the dairy industry.
Unfortunately, the dairy industry still suffers under the pressure of milk imports which are flooding domestic supermarkets and retail outlets thus undermining the competitiveness of the local industry.
A visit to supermarkets in Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali will reveal that Tanzanian dairy products are rarely, if at all, on sell, he said.
He said that although Tanzania has more than 25 million herds (the second in Africa after Ethiopia), there have been complaints by Tanzania Milk Processors Association (TAMPA) in the past few years of imports from South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and even Saudi Arabia.
According to Sinare, Kenya processes about three million litres of milk per day while Tanzania processes only 115,000 litres per day.
Currently Kenya is estimated to produce 5.2 billion litres of milk annually with the national average per capita milk consumption standing at 47 litres per year, while Tanzania processes an estimated 2 billion litres of milk per year.
Dr Sinare raised concern that the situation causes milk surpluses, which could result in the quota by dairy producers being cut. He revealed that quota cuts are the last resort by farmers, and that these could finally have negative repercussions for the industry.
He stressed that if no urgent solutions are sought then shrinking of the dairy industry and a significant loss of jobs is inevitable. Local dairy producers say Tanzania is the only country in the Eastern African Customs Union (EACU) that has fully de-regulated its dairy sector, making the country a single free market.
ACT boss pointed out that Tanzanian milk is hormone-free and of better quality, produced without the use of banned feed supplements and antibiotics.
The regulatory framework in South Africa and other countries allow producers to utilise hormones, feed supplements (rumen sin), antibiotics and certain vaccines which improve animal health and milk production per cow.
Tanzanian consumers favour ultra-heat treatment (UHT) milk over fresh milk, mainly because of its lower retail price, availability and longer shelf life.
UHT or ultra-pasteurisation, is the sterilisation of food by heating it for an extremely short period, around one to two seconds, at a temperature exceeding 135°C, which is the temperature required to kill spores in milk.
UHT milk has a typical shelf life of six to nine months, until when opened.
However, stakeholders told this paper that the government should put a ban on all imported dairy products from flooding the local market as they negatively affect the growth of the sector. Instead, they said, the government should start supporting the local sector to boost production.
“The government should ban all dairy imports because they are impacting on the growth of the country’s sector. Local farmers should be supported so that they can boost production,” said Peter Mlegulah, one of the stakeholders in the dairy industry.
He said that farmers are an agro based economy and so they cannot continue to import milk, adding that they need to support local commercial and small scale farmers who are engaged in livestock keeping and dairy production.