May 24, 2010

An (Un)Inspiring Visit to a Livestock Market.

A little while back, we visited what is supposedly the largest livestock market on the African continent: Pugu Livestock Market, located just outside of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. An average of 300-400 cattle are sold daily at Pugu. The livestock begin their journey to Pugu from the farthest reaches of Tanzania in a network of over 300 primary markets, where they are in turn herded along trails that have been used for centuries to reach one of the 12 secondary markets located in Arusha, Dodoma, Singida, Tabora, Shinyanga, Kagera, Mwanza, Mbeya and Mara and eventually one of the 4 terminal markets, including Pugu. Historically, livestock were transported to secondary and terminal markets via rail, while today they are mainly transported via truck, otherwise known as a lorry.

As with most cattle markets around the world, it is energetic middlemen that rule the trade markets, harbingers of prized information that in part dictates the sale price. Middlemen work with traders, who in turn work with the cattle owners or farmers. In some regions of Tanzania there exist, market spies, or mkulima shushushu, who are hired to give farmers an upper hand in the sales transactions. The spies gather market intelligence including information on prices, demand, quantity, and the quality of other farmer's goods and help link farmers to potential buyers. Interestingly, the majority of animals in Tanzania never step foot on a scale, instead animal weights and grades are visually estimated, even at Pugu where a functioning scale is installed.
Despite this quite impressive backstory, our visit was in fact, less than impressive. A sleepy feeling pervaded the place, and we could not help but feel we were being watched with deep suspicion as unwelcome outsiders to this scene.

But the one thing that left quite an impression on me from this visit was the variety and size of cow horns that we saw within the market. Shortly thereafter I purchased my very own cow horn, and I simply love it. I am now obsessing about how I will later put it to use.

References and Photo Credits:

Photo #1: Andrei Sinioukov

Photo #2:

Photo #3:

Photo #4: Miles Redd, via Rooms to Inspire book

Photo #5: source unknown

No comments:

Post a Comment