Saudi Arabia lifts ban on Tanzania meat

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on Tanzania meat

SAUDI Arabia has lifted a 21-year ban on Tanzania meat imports and related products that was imposed following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD), authorities have confirmed.

This was disclosed by the Embassy of Tanzania in Saudi Arabia through its Twitter account @TanzaniaKSA, saying the Saudi Arabia Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) lifted the import ban after their officers visited Tanzania in August 2020 to inspect abattoirs and slaughter facilities.

Two meat-processing companies Limited of Kibaha and Eliya Food Overseas of Arusha—have been given the approval to begin importing their goods into the Saudi Arabian market as of June 23 under the new arrangement.

“We thank all the stakeholders for their contribution to achieving this,” the tweet reads, in part. According to the Ambassador of Tanzania to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ali Mwadini, foot and mouth disease was the cause of Tanzania's import ban on livestock products at the time.

“The upgraded Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) laboratories and increased standards for meat processing with monitoring through diplomatic channels are the reasons why the ban has been lifted,” he said. Speaking exclusively to the 'Daily News' via WhatsApp voice call on Sunday, Ambassador Mwadini confirmed the good news to local animal keepers, pastoralists and meat processors as he called upon the stakeholders to join forces to ensure Tanzania meat products maintain the required standards.

He said when he was posted to Saudi Arabia, Tanzania exports were at 8 million US dollars per year and climbed slightly to 14 million US dollars adding that the permission to export meat is going to address trade imbalances between the two sides.

Explaining why Tanzanian meat was banned in Saudi Arabia, almost 21 years ago, the envoy mentioned the outbreak of foot and mouth disease as a factor which forced the Arab State to focus on other countries including Brazil.

After a series of meetings between Dar es Salaam and Riyadh, inspection of meat processing companies' infrastructure and local experts in the industry, the Saudi authorities were satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the two sides could resume the stalled business.

Meat market in Saudi Arabia is valued at 1.8 billion US dollars and the diplomat is optimistic that if Tanzania will manage to grab at least half of it, there will be a trickle down and multiplier effect in the East African State's economy.

He added that since Tanzania is capable of supplying the product "consistently and sustainably," Dar exports to Riyadh can reach 250 million US dollars in the first phase as it eyes to grab Saudi Arabia's 50 per cent market share of meat trade.

"I would like to thank Honorable President Samia Suluhu Hassan for pushing this, Livestock and Fisheries; and Foreign Affairs Ministers, Arabia's Embassy in Tanzania and authorities from both sides for making deliberate effort to make this happen," he said.

However, stakeholders have congratulated for the move as they warned that the country should throw weight behind the quality control for the country to maintain the opportunity.

ACT-Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe commended for the just opened opportunity insisting that the country needs to boost exports to Saudi Arabia.

The politician replied to the Embassy’s post by tweeting: “Congratulation. We need to increase exports.

"The meat sector was lagging behind. Make sure that we maintain these markets in order to boost foreign exchange earnings, employment for youths and expand economic activities."

He advised the Embassy to sit with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries to contemplate how the two sides could ensure the country’s exports to Saudi Arabia hit 500 million US dollars.

Tanzania is the second country in Africa to have the largest number of livestock after Ethiopia. According to the FurtherAfrica website, Ethiopia leads with a staggering 60.39 million cattle while Tanzania in the second position has an estimated total of 33.9million cattle.

According to the 2020 Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Census the country’s cattle herds grew from 33.4 million in 2019/2020 to 33.9 million in 2020/2021.

Most of its livestock produce is for domestic consumption. Up until 2019, Tanzania exported 4000 tonnes of meat each year.

As the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, it fell to a mere 1,774 tonnes. Not deterred by recent setbacks the government sees the potential of exporting 10000 tonnes of meat by 2025.

Recent export figures are encouraging. From July to October 2021, 2,000 tonnes were exported, indicating a strong bounce back. Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Mashimba Ndaki, said meat production increased by 5.2 per cent in 2020 to 738,166 tonnes, up from 701,700 tonnes in 2019. Of this, over 508,000 tonnes were beef.

The rest came from chickens, goats, sheep, and pork.

Saudi Arabia represents a huge market and export opportunity for Tanzania as it imports 700,000 tonnes of meat annually.

But ever since the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Tanzania producers have not been able to export to the oil-rich Gulf kingdom.


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