Livestock stakeholders praise govt for closing donkey slaughterhouses

04Jan 2022
Friday Simbaya
The Guardian
Livestock stakeholders praise govt for closing donkey slaughterhouses

LIVESTOCK stakeholders in Iringa region have commended the government for banning donkey meat trading and closure of abattoirs which were mainly run by Chinese investors.

Iringa Regional Veterinary Officer, Isidory Karia (in white coat) giving a de-worming drug to one of the donkeys found at Mbweleli village during a mobile veterinary clinic organised in collaboration with Inades Formation Tanzania last week.

Commenting on a recent move by Livestock and Fisheries Minister, Mashimba Ndaki to ban trading in donkey meat, the stakeholders said the decision was long overdue because locally bred donkey were facing the threat of extinction. Minister Ndaki said the Chinese investors have failed to adhere to agreed conditions including introducing hybrid donkeys to save existing locally bred ones from extinction.

Speaking in a random interview by The Guardian last week, the Iringa based livestock stakeholders said the existence of donkey slaughterhouses had led to an increase in donkey theft in the region but also endangered the safety of and existence of the animals.

They said that presence of the abattoirs and donkey skin processing factories in the country contribute to increased donkey demand hence fuelling thefts and illegal trading of the live animals.

A resident of Migoli village in Iringa district, Rhoda Mwangosi said the government’s decision has restored law and order because theft of donkeys in her village has disappeared. Mwangosi added as one of the victims of the donkey thieves, she strongly backs Minister Ndaki’s move. “Two of my four donkeys were stolen because of presence of these slaughterhouses and tanneries,” she charged.

Mwangosi was optimistic that the closure of the factories will help restore donkey numbers in the country for use as beasts of burden especially in rural areas where motorised transport is scarce. “The donkeys are very important to us because they help us fetch water, firewood and farm produce to markers,” she noted.

Mwangosi’s arguments were backed by Mtera Village resident, Redenta Mgungile who said that, finally, the government heard their cry and took action. “We are happy that these animals are now safe and we as owners are at peace,” Mgungile said while noting that existence of the factories and slaughterhouses forced them to pay herd-men between 30,000/- and 40,000/- per month to protect them.

 A Project Officer from Inades Formation Tanzania, Fortunata Tarimo said donkeys have made a significant contribution to the well-being of the families and smallholder farmers, as they are important beasts of burden. Tarimo said that when donkeys are not present in villages for household use, its mostly girls and women who suffer because their responsibilities are done by the group.

“In rural areas, many activities are done by donkeys such as taking maize or rice mills, help women fetch firewood, take women to clinics and children to school,” she argued while saying that the presence of donkeys at community level is a big relief to girls and women.

She said increasing demand for donkeys had pushed prices to new levels peaking at 250,000/- each on average. “As we know a donkey takes a long time to reproduce due to being overworked which negatively affects pregnant donkeys,” the Inades Formation Tanzania Project Officer noted.

Maiko Koturo, whose is Chairperson of Mbweleli Village, advised the government to keep the ban permanent because livestock keepers had suffered enough due to thieves. “We have now returned to normal because the threat has gone away,” Koturo said.

Mbweleli Village Executive Officer, Christina Matayo also backed Minister Ndaki’s decision saying civil society organizations such as Inades should sensitise the public on how to take care of donkeys to increase their numbers.

“I would like to call upon organisations such as Inades to collaborate closely with the government in giving farmers expert advice on how to raise healthy donkeys,” Matayo said saying the banning of donkey meat trade and tanneries will restore their numbers abut also give owners are peace.

Iringa District Council’s Livestock Officer, Isidory Karia said donkeys are valuable assets in rural areas and decision by the government of President Samia Suluhu Hassan through Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries to ban their trading was meant to protect interest of rural farmers.

Karia commended a project implemented by Inades Formation Tanzania since 2019 for improving donkeys' livelihood as the animals are better off currently. “Before the project, the donkeys were found to have sores, overloaded and owners not following the five donkeys' rights,” he stated saying the situation is completely changed now.

"In short, we commend the Inades organization for helping to provide education on animal welfare to the public and for motivating the community to engage in better animal husbandry practices,” he noted.

Inades Formation Tanzania’s Director, Specioza Kifutu commended the government through Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries for effectively enforcing the Livestock Act of 2008, which has been applied to stop donkey trading business mainly in Shinyanga and Dodoma regions. 

Kifutu said abolition of such slaughterhouses and tanneries will lead to an increase in the number of donkeys in the country where so far it is estimated that there are on average of 637,000 donkeys. She said the decision was based on the slower pace of breeding donkeys compared to the high market demand.

“Only a small percentage of farmers are able to get rid of the hand-hoe and move to mechanised agriculture technology with donkeys as beasts of burden,” the Inades Formation Tanzania Director added.

She pointed out that use of animals such as donkeys in rural farms is an important step towards mechanising farming. Kifutu called on the government to continue cooperating with Inades in ensuring that animal welfare laws are implemented and leading to the complete abolition of the trade in the country.