Purchasing 450 boats with IMF credits a turning point

The Guardian
Published at 03:57 PM May 16 2024
Livestock and Fisheries minister Abdallah Ulega tables the ministry’s Budget estimates for financial year 2024/2025 in the National Assembly
Photo: Ibrahim Joseph
Livestock and Fisheries minister Abdallah Ulega tables the ministry’s Budget estimates for financial year 2024/2025 in the National Assembly

NEWS that the Livestock and Fisheries ministry intends to purchase 450 boats and fishing tools, using funds from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), its extended credit facility (ECF).

 The sector minister, unveiled this plan when tabling budget estimates, referring to a five-year Tanzania Climate-Smart Dairy Transformation Project (T-CSDTP), among other initiatives. It is ambitious enough with its target of reaching 600,000 people in the dairy value chain, along with envisaged changes in fisheries. There are considerable sums of money being injected in the respective sectors.

 Some of those ambitious targets rhyme with expectations of garnering foreign markets, while at times it is purely a question of making local markets run on a better framework, for instance when roadside sellers of potatoes or onions are restricted by agro-sector inspectors from overfilling the tins they use. 

The method is used to attract buyers in a competitive fashion but regulators feel that those sellers are being exploited, in which case they place the produce on a level with the tin without a cone above, while there are no cap prices. This is market behaviour that demands no regulatory mechanisms at all.

 Much the same thing is being noticed with regard to the milk sub-sector or fresh milk industry along with yoghurt, as the ministry expects to set up 950 milk collection centres, with a view to changing the milk trade from informal sector to processed and packaged milk. 

The consuming public is waiting to see how this shall work out as processed and packaged milk involves price mark ups ordinarily absent in informal sector setting. And even with the low price margins, the outreach in terms of milk consumption as a whole is low, and if prices are marked up, chances of a stable subsector will dry up.

 Much the same consideration surfaces when one starts figuring out how an additional 17,200 modern dairy cattle, 5,000 improved cattle sheds and rainwater harvesting innovations in 22,400 households are likely to impact on market behaviour. While there are clear indicators that all this activity will be conducted on a private sector or ownership basis, merely facilitated by government agencies, chances of its taking off without hiccups are limited. A number of its elements are strait-jacketed, which may limit their being absorbed by the market directly, rely on government finding foreign markets, etc.

What raises no problems whatsoever is obtaining 929,000 doses of livestock vaccines and training livestock keepers on Juncao feeds production, with 20,000 hectares of grazing areas in three wards scattered in two regions. 

There is plenty of work that is visible in the offing, but it is unclear whether the marketing environment will conform to the productive thrust and its employment rationale, except for a fairly promising beef market on the Gulf zone. In that case all will be happy at the first stage of the project as money is disbursed and utilities are put on the ground, but there is need for an auxiliary design, an extension of the project write up, on weaning all these utilities from donor funds, finally. This is definitely a turning point for fishing and livestock breeding, but the silver lining is required.