Dodoma. The government has prepared a new system for selling beef cattle in all auctions across the country, whereby cattle will be sold as per their kilograms and not by estimated price as it is for now.
The envisaged system, whose use is expected to commence earlier next month, is expected to play a pivotal role in helping livestock keepers and beef cattle traders realise reasonable profits.
For many years, beef cattle in all auctions in Tanzania have been marketed through negotiations between the sellers and buyers based on ‘eye- estimations’ and not the actual weight of the cattle.
To repair the situation, the government has found it prudent to introduce the weight-based selling system to transform the country’s cattle market into a win-win business.
Speaking to The Chanzo on the sidelines of a special forum of the Pastoralists Association of Tanzania (PAT), Msafiri Mkunda, the District Livestock Officer (DLO) of Kongwa district in Dodoma, said that the Livestock Ministry has so far distributed at least 80 cattle weighing facilities in different districts in readiness to start implementing the helpful system.
“As per the system, the government will freely place the cattle weighing devices at all auctions across the country, and before embarking on the use of the scales, involved traders and the beef cattle farmers will be educated about the potential of using the system,” Mkunda detailed.
The official is optimistic that the envisaged system will help improve the sector through professional setting up indicative prices in selling beef cattle within the country.
“The current system is unreliable one,” Mr Mkunda added. “[This is] because the cattle are being sold at estimated prices that do not reflect their kilograms and thus, often leading to the involved sellers and buyers to incur unnecessary loss.”
Under the new system, one kilogram is expected to be sold for between Sh3,000 and Sh3,200, based on the current prices.
“Experience shows that most of the beef cattle that are often available at the country’s auctions (the local breeds) are of 250kg and 350kg, whereby through the format of the currently estimated price, they’re sold from between Sh300,000 to Sh400,000, which is a low price in comparison to their actual weights,” Mr Mkunda explained.
According to him, the new system will thus enable beef cattle traders and pastoralists to stand a better chance of fetching lucrative profits from their transactions, pointing out that this is the case in most countries that perform well in the beef cattle business.
These include Brazil, Australia, the United States, India, Argentina, New Zealand and Canada. Tanzania has Africa’s third-largest livestock population, the second largest after Ethiopia.
But despite such endowment, the cattle farmers in the country are lagging behind to benefit from their business.
The Tanzanian Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) is working to develop and introduce hay bales, which include grass, legumes, and other herbaceous plants that have been cut and dried to be stored for use as animal fodder to help ease the availability of fodder for the livestock through the year.
However, there are concerns that the majority of local cattle farmers are still far away from benefiting from such services.
Valentine Oforo is a freelance journalist based in Dodoma, Tanzania. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.