Landmark Hotel, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 01 - to 04 April 2014.
Hon. Dr Titus Mlengeya Kamani (MP) Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Development presided over the opening ceremony. The Hon Minister welcomed the participants to the workshop and thanked the African Union and the EAC Secretariat for spearheading the initiative to improve Veterinary services and the European Union for their continued and unwavering support to the Veterinary Services and Livestock Development in the EAC region.
The Minister reminded participants that the East African region is endowed with a rich and enormous animal resource base and that Livestock, are currently estimated at: 48.6 million cattle, 56.5 million goats, 25.2 million sheep, 5.5 million pigs, 3.07 million camels and 123.91 million poultry, making the EAC one of the richest regions in Africa in terms of livestock resources. However, the Hon Minister noted that the full contribution of the animal resource to the economy and livelihoods of the people of the region had not been fully and correctly quantified despite the fact that they are an important resource base for food for the growing population, employment and income and foreign exchange for our countries, traction and dung for energy and soil fertility improvement to rural agriculture, meat, milk and eggs for consumption and export, hides and skins for the growing industries and foreign exchange, in addition to its socio-cultural values which should not be underestimated.
As regards the United Republic of Tanzania the Minister regreted to inform the participants that though the current livestock estimates show that the country has 22.8 million heads of cattle, 15.6 million goats, 7.0 million sheep and 60 million poultry, thus being one of the countries with the largest livestock numbers in the region, the contribution of the sector to the national GDP was less than 5% and that the challenge was to establish the real overall contribution of the animal resource to the people of Tanzania and the national economy. He further pointed out that Tanzania should take advantage of the increasing national, regional and international demand for livestock and livestock products and noted that in order to address this challenge in the country, there was a need to have policies which adequately address the nationl veterinary services, animal production, productivity and marketing, and all the value chain aspects Livestock production, processing and marketing, in a holistic and more focussed manner, based of a well established knowledge base. He noted that the United Republic of Tanzania had faired quite well as far as livestock and livestock-related policies, strategies, laws and regulation are concerned but the challenge was how to enforce them. The Hon Minister was glad that the strategic goal of the VetGov programme was to strengthen national veterinary services and regional institutions to play their roles of coordination, harmonisation, integration and support to countries with the aim to stimulate a more conducive environment for public and private investments in the livestock sector with focus on: creating a conducive and participatory change environment through evidence-based advocacy and knowledge creation; building institutional and individual capacity in policy analysis, formulation and implementation to undertake institutional strengthening of veterinary services; encouraging change through supporting initiatives with high leverage effects; policy analysis, evidence-based policy formulation, and creation awareness.
He reiterated that the major challenge Tanzania was facing in the livestock sector was the uncontroled livestock movement resulting into unprecedented conflicts between pastoralists and other land users and spread of animal diseases, which lead to increased poverty. There was therefore a need to come up with appropriate policies to address this.
In conclusion the Hon Minister was glad that the workshop was to initiate the establishment of a National Livestock Policy Hub composed of a multi-disciplinary team of experts, anchored at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development that will ensure ensure national ownership and a broader stakeholder participation. He pledged full support for this noble idea and called upon the the participants to take a keen interest in internalising the workshop objectives and hoped that the initiatives being undertaken by the VetGov programme would go a long way in strengthening Livestock policy development in the United Republic of Tanzania.