FAO supports budding small livestock and meat export industry in Tanzania
Tanzanian sheep and goat farmers may soon be able to take advantage of a new market in the Gulf States. Assisted by an FAO Technical Cooperation Project, the East African country has taken the first steps towards establishing a meat export industry, drawing on the country's 14 million strong sheep and goat herd.
The Livestock Marketing and Smallstock Export Promotion Project, which began in February 1997, has developed a data bank and export promotion strategy targeted at the Near East.
A new, purpose-built market and information system is part of that export strategy. A trade-promotion mission of government and private-enterprise representatives that visited the United Arab Emirates was another part. The mission returned convinced, through discussion, observation and objective measurement, that Tanzania's smallstock and carcass meat were equal to the best they'd seen on offer.
"Contact with UAE importers has been established and private sector interest in exporting is high, thanks to our project," said James Airey, Chief Technical Advisor for the project. "With the new facilities and systems in place we can invite Near East importers here to inspect our sheep and goats, confident we can sort and display them to advantage and answer any queries that may arise."
The most visible outcome of the project is perhaps the terminal market (see photo), built 20 km inland from the capital Dar Es Salaam. Here up to 1 000 animals can be sorted and graded at a time. Price depends on carcass quality and meat yield factors - namely animal gender, age, muscling and fat cover and weight. Teeth are checked for number and wear to reveal age, a hand placed on the small of the back communicates grade (equivalent, in human terms, to fat, fit, lean or thin) and a glance behind discloses gender (either male, female or castrated). The animal is chalk marked accordingly. They are then screened off, according to mark, into separate pens, where they are weighed. When the animals are finally sold, prices are recorded to complete the data set.
Each week the data is processed into an accurate market report. This gives full results, price by weight, grade and gender, numbers sold, changes from the previous week and the source of the animals. The report is broadcast on national radio to reach buyers and sellers wherever they are. The object is to spread the benefits of current marketing information and knowledge as far and wide as possible. Broadcasting the results from the largest market in the country will help to stimulate trade, reduce the knowledge-gap between producers and traders and increase competition at producers' primary market level.
The government is not only interested in setting up an efficient meat export industry. It also wants to privatize the delivery of the market services. People must therefore be trained for this new business opportunity.
"The future of this initiative rests on maintaining momentum," said Airey. "External technical aid and investment are essential for the next crucial phase. Proposals requiring international assistance have already been submitted by the government to interested donors and we're hoping for the best."
22 December 1998
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