Tanzania's national cattle herd is the third largest in Africa at 17m head--after Ethiopia and Sudan with 31m and 30m respectively. Yet it earns only a paltry $4m from the export of cattle, beef and related products, compared to the $100m Botswana earns from this agro-sector.
The government, with the support of international organisations, is now determined to reverse this trend and turn cattle into a major revenue generating resource--but obstacles remain.
The country's industrial beef production went into a tail spin when the collapse of the state-owned Tanganyika Packers Ltd in 1974 was followed, a year later, by the spread of various cattle diseases. This resulted in Tanzania losing its export sanitary certificate.
Now only small-scale meat processing plants scattered around the country can hardly cope even with local demand. Transporting cattle is another problem. Cattle are mainly reared in the Arusha, Dodoma, Shinyanga and Singida regions but transporting them to the sea port of Dar es Salaam for export means …