By Professor Jo Sharp

After a week of meetings and getting research timetables planned and agreed upon, we finally had the opportunity to get out and about in Arusha to see something of the animal supply chains at the heart of much of the ZELS work. Emmanuel Sindiyo, a livestock officer from Arusha City Council, had arranged for visits to the city abattoir, some peri-urban smallholder farmers and a couple of butcher shops.

While we were too late to see the abattoir in action, its manager took us through the steps involved from a live animal arriving to its leaving as meat, and we discussed the possibility of sampling from there for our research. We were told that unlike other towns and cities in Tanzania, where meat is mostly slaughtered on local slaughter slabs, all meat slaughtered in Arusha should come through this facility, allowing for a much greater degree of monitoring.

In theory, this should make our task of mapping the supply chains easier. It will most likely be more of a challenge to map the connections between the butcher’s shops in Moshi and the suppliers coming through the multiple local (and backyard) slaughter slabs.

The New Modern Butcher, Arusha.

The New Modern Butcher, Arusha.

Across the road from the abattoir is the New Modern Butcher, where meat slaughtered that morning was being prepared for sale. The demand for chicken meat is high in towns and cities, and various producers have sprung up to meet this emerging market. We next visited one entrepreneur who has experimented with a variety of hybrid and “exotic” breeds to meet the increasing demand for chicken meat.

While the sale of eggs produces only small returns (especially the brown ones, we were told, because consumers felt their size and the light colour of the yolks were less healthy than the smaller, yellow-yolked white eggs), incubating the eggs and selling day-old chicks to others proves more profitable.

Some of the complex patterns of knowledge in the supply chain began to emerge here. This breeder used many “modern” approaches. He talked about having attended many seminars, and providing training for the use of incubators that he produced in his yard for others to buy. He was also able to discuss the use of half a dozen or so vaccinations. But this was complemented by his use of a number of “traditional” remedies, such as the use of aloe vera to help chicks build their immune system and mango leaves ground up in chicken feed because of their alleged antibiotic properties.

Peri-urban smallholding, Arusha.

Peri-urban smallholding, Arusha.

Men dominate the red meat supply chain here, but women dominate the production of poultry. Our final stop was at the home of a female smallholder whose yard was filled with chickens, ducks, turkeys and guinea fowl, as well as some zero-grazed small ruminants and cattle.

In the past, this smallholder had kept a larger number of cattle, but pressure on land in the peri-urban area had pushed up the price of grazing for her. Like all the people we visited that morning, she was very well able to discuss the diseases that her animals were subject to, and she had benefited from proximity to the Veterinary Investigation Centre in Arusha where she could take sick animals for treatment.

Professor Jo Sharp is a co-Principal Investigator with LLH.

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