Cattle disease curbs SADC meat exports

15May 2021
James Kandoya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Cattle disease curbs SADC meat exports

THE government is grappling with the foot-and-mouth disease ravaging cattle populations and thus crippling the country’s capacity to export meat to Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states.

The Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Mashimba Ndaki told ‘The Guardian’ in a recent interview  that the ministry has already taken initiatives to address the problem, which has led to Tanzania being barred from exporting meat and live cattle in the zone, as the SADC region takes precautions against the spread of the disease.

Seven countries are ready to purchase meat and animal products from Tanzania but under condition that it must prove without doubt to have eliminated FMD, severe, highly contagious viral disease of cattle and swine caused by a virus, he stated, noting that there are seven types of such viruses, producing similar symptoms “and distinguishable only in the laboratory.”

Teams of experts from member states will clear the export hurdle when satisfied that the country had controlled the problem and therefore deserves to be allowed to export meat and meat products, he stated.

The countries are not sure on effectiveness of the way the disease is being put under control as so far the country had an uncontrolled outbreak of the disease, he said.

“Our teams are working to see possible ways to meet the condition set by the  SADC member states,” he said, citing in particular Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Botswana, Angola Malawi and South Africa.

The member states will in three months time send a team of experts using their criteria to find out if the situation allows them to clear meat exports from us, he said.

 “Once we submit our application, the team of experts will come to the country to ascertain that we have met the minimum set of requirements to export meat and meat products to their markets” he emphasised.

The team of experts will collect data by random sampling and put to the test to show if the government had contained the disease outbreak as it expects to have done so by that time, he specified.

Tanzania is the second in Africa for size of livestock population, with an estimated 33.4m head of cattle, 21.29m goats and 5.65m sheep, but the resulting contribution of the leather sector to GDP is minimal.

Experts say this is attributed by low public financing for the sector, persistence of traditional herding and grazing of animals and poor slaughtering facilities.

Old technologies in tanning and leather manufacturing industries are some of constraints along the value chain that limit the development of the leather sector in the country, they further assert, illustrating that in 2019, beef and beef variety meat exports amounted to 1.32m metric tons valued at $$8.1bn.

Top export destinations of sheep and goat meat, fresh, chilled or frozen from Tanzania in 2018 were United Arab Emirates at 73 percent of the total, priced at $2.9m, Oman at 16 percent ($648,000), Vietnam at 3.13 percent ($123,000) along with Hong Kong at 2.88 percent ($113,000), while others were Kuwait 1.23 percent priced at $48,000 plus Pakistan ($38,000),Argentina with $20,000 imports of Tanzanian meat, the United States at $18,700 of such exports and South Africa at $14,200 in that year.

However, in 2017/2018 Tanzania imported 1404.96 tonnes of meats, but in 2018/2019 it dropped to 516.63 tonnes.

Last year, the government launched the Tanzania Livestock Master Plan (TLMP) to address the challenges facing the sector so as to propel it towards the the Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) by 2025.

TDV goals include a vibrant livestock sector, to a large extent being commercially run, modern and sustainable with highly productive livestock to ensure food security, improved incomes for households and contributing to the revenue and environmental conservation.

Top Stories