TANZANIA – Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) has rolled out a special crossbreeding programme aimed at boosting beef breeds while improving production in the country.

The initiative seeks to increase the stock of Boran cattle, a popular Zebu beef breed while addressing challenges faced in beef production.

Speaking to Daily News, TALIRI Director General, Dr Eligy Shirima said the sector was facing several challenges including low genetic potential of existing stock, inadequate infrastructure, prevalence of animal diseases, inadequate pastureland, weak livestock farmer’s organisations and inadequate technical support services.

Despite the fact that Tanzania has one of the largest number of cattle on the continent, the beef sector has stagnated calling for serious interventions from both the government and other stakeholders.

According to Dr Eligy, several studies have been conducted by high profile experts from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) between 2010 and 2016 on cattle, goats and sheep feedlotting in the country.

He mentioned that energy was the main constraint to mutton production and several interventions have to be put in place to address the problem.

“Molasses is the cheapest source of energy…almost 10 times that of maize bran and is relatively cheaper in terms of availability, price and palatability as compared to the other energy source diets,” he said.

TALIRI has partnered other research institutions to strategise on improving the livestock industry and its contribution to the household and national economies.

For the objective development of the sector, the director general highlighted the need for review of taxes, tariffs and national policies to create conducive environment for investment and beef production.

Investments could include feed resource development through paddocking and irrigation and value addition of meat, hides, skins and other products.

“Strategic investment in capacity building at all value chain levels from producers, traders, processors and extension service providers is vital to improve beef production,” he added.

The institute is carrying out reforms for the livestock sector with such programmes geared towards improving income to pastoralists.

Tanzania has the third largest livestock population on the African continent comprising 25 million cattle, 98% of which are indigenous breeds.

Despite of these resources including millions of goats, sheep, pigs and chicken, the livestock sector is performing well below its potential.