Livestock raising, and in particular cattle herding, is a major economic activity. Animal husbandry was the main source of livelihood for perhaps a third of Chad's people. The growing importance of cattle and meat exports underscored this point. In the 1960s and 1970s, these exports were estimated at between 25 and 30 percent of all merchandise exports. The proportion of these exports grew in the 1980s as the value of cotton exports declined. It was impossible, however, to know with certainty the actual values of cattle exports. For processed meat exports, less uncertainty existed because these exports were controlled from the slaughterhouse to the point of export; in 1985 processed meat exports represented less than 1 percent of all merchandise exports. The real value of Chad's cattle herds was in the export by traditional traders to markets in Cameroon and Nigeria. These "on the hoof" exports passed largely outside the control of customs services. Therefore, these exports were neither counted nor taxed. Perhaps one-fourth of cattle's estimated 30-percent share of total exports, was officially recorded.
The size of Chad's herds was also difficult to determine. Considered to have declined in the mid-1970s and again in the early 1980s because of drought and warfare across the sahelian zone, estimated to be growing at a rate of 4 percent annually, reached some 4 million head of cattle, 4.5 million sheep and goats, 500,000 camels, and 420,000 horses and donkeys by the mid-1980s. Sheep and goats were found in all regions of Chad.
Before the drought of the 1980s, the sahelian zone held the largest herds, with about 80 percent of the total cattle herd. Smaller numbers of cattle were found in the soudanian zone, along with about 100,000 buffaloes used in plowing cotton fields. Camel herds were concentrated in the dry northern regions. Herders practiced transhumance--seasonal migrations along fairly well-set patterns.
With the 1984-85 drought, transhumance patterns changed. Camels were brought farther south into the sahelian zone in search of water. Cattle were herded even farther south, sometimes through Salamat Prefecture into Central African Republic.
The government and international donor community had contemplated considerable improvements for Chad's livestock management, but these plans were undermined by the Chadian Civil War, political instability, and an inadequate infrastructure. The most successful programs have been animal vaccination campaigns, such as an emergency project carried out in 1983 to halt the spread of rinderpest. The campaign reached some 4.7 million head of cattle across the nation and demonstrated the capabilities of Chad's animal health service when given external support. The Livestock and Veterinary Medicine Institute of Chad (Institut d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire du Tchad--IEMVT), which was financed by foreign aid, was capable of producing vaccines for Chad as well as for neighboring countries. Despite plant capacity, by 1984 a lack of a trained staff limited production to vaccines for anthrax and pasteurellosis.
Two institutional efforts to manage cattle marketing were attempted in the 1970s and 1980s. The Chadian Animal Resources Improvement Company (Société Tchadienne d'Exploitation des Ressources Animales-- SOTERA), a mixed enterprise formed as a livestock company with participation by some traditional livestock traders, began operations in 1978. Its aim was to control live animal exports through a license system and to have a monopoly on exports of chilled meat and hides. It was hoped at the time that the association of traders to SOTERA would increase the effective collection of export taxes on livestock by 50 to 75 percent. By 1984, however, SOTERA handled only a small portion of the domestic market and less than 30 percent of the export trade. A second institution, the Center for the Modernization of Animal Production (Centre de Modernisation des Productions Animales--CMPA), was engaged in marketing dairy products, supplying chicks to farmers, and overseeing the sale of eggs and the processing of feed. But, among other problems, the CMPA was unable to compete with local traders for milk needed to produce cheese for sale. Although highly subsidized, this venture also was unsuccessful and demonstrated the resilience of the traditional private network for marketing produce.
Despite these institutional difficulties, the international community continued to support efforts to expand animal health services to Chad's herders. Some estimates suggest that the nation's herds could be increased by 35 percent if the distribution of water were improved, extension services were made more available, and animal health services were expanded.
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