‘To turn herders into ranchers, invest more’

20Apr 2019
The Guardian Reporter
IRINGA
The Guardian
‘To turn herders into ranchers, invest more’

​​​​​​​AS the national programme aimed at modernising traditional livestock keeping continues, those it targets have called on the government to go beyond sensitisation by investing more in technology, modern animal breeds and expertise for the plan to bear fruit.

Speaking here yesterday, dairy farmers taking part in the ongoing research on better livestock feeds said training sessions from early this month should go together with a comprehensive strategy to help the country shift from grazing large numbers of animals to profitable dairy farming.

Giving feedback for research participants in Mufindi district where the study is taking place, Upendo Kalinga said this can only be achieved if animal keepers are empowered to access quality breeds, if they are taught by experts how to produce grass and other feeds in their local environments  and supplied with basic equipment a dairy farmer must have.

“For instance, if you have acres of grass for your animals, you will definitely need a mower to ease the cutting of grass,” she said.

From feed processing skills to machines that facilitate the same, Kalinga argued that the government has a big role to play in transforming animal keeping in the country.

In a rejoinder, the Director General of the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) Dr Eligy Shirima said the government is set to roll out breeding technology that chooses the gender of the calf.

Dr Shirima said the technology will allow farmers to choose male or female calves depending on their own demand which he said will be a milestone in Tanzania’s livestock sector.

Dr Angello Mwilawa, the director of research, training and extension services in the Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries who is in charge of the national programme issued an appeal to animal keepers including pastoral communities to heed recommendations by experts and adopt modern methods of animal husbandry.

These methods are more productive and will save these communities the time used to wandering around in search of grass and water for their animals, he pointed out.

The training programme brings pastoral communities to comprehend a range of issues including laws that govern the livestock sub-sector, how to mitigate conflicts with farmers and conservationists, as well as modern methods of animal husbandry that should be embraced.

Speaking during the launch of the programme at Kimotorok village in Simanjiro district of Manyara region, the minister, Luhaga Mpina said the initiative involves training pastoralists and other communities depending largely on livestock for their livelihood, on how to turn their animals into financial resources.

The 2016 animal health strategy and vision for Tanzania noted that more than 85 per cent of Tanzanians live in rural areas, out of whom about 37 per cent keep livestock.

The livestock population in the country is estimated at 23 million cattle, seven million sheep, 16 million goats, two million pigs and 59 million poultry.

An estimated 88 per cent out of the total livestock population is kept in smallholder traditional systems, the study specified.