Botswana government has agreed to transform the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) to a limited liability company and be commercialised to achieve operational efficiencies with an appropriate mix of ownership between farmers’ legal entities and government. The minister of agricultural development and food security, Patrick Ralotsia said the move will require remodelling the business operations of Lobatse and Francistown abattoirs in two to three years.
However, the Maun abattoir will be retained as a government entity, and be supported with an annual budget. “This step is meant to ensure a market for cattle in Ngamiland and to guard against the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) into the green zones. Such support can be reviewed and commercialisation explored once the FMD status in the district has been improved on a sustained basis,” the minister told parliament.
According to the minister, a livestock and meat industry regulator will be established for control of the livestock industry while all relevant legislative instruments relating to the livestock and meat industry will be reviewed with a view to creating an appropriate regulatory framework.
“In adopting the………measures, government recognises that the beef industry is important for Botswana’s rural population, in particular, and constitutes an important source of both current and potential export earnings,” he said.
“In this respect, the beef sub-sector has already been identified as a strategic sub-sector within the country’s Economic Diversification Drive (EDD). Although the agricultural sector currently accounts for a relatively small proportion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimated at about 2 per cent, it continues to provide employment and enhanced livelihoods to a large proportion of the rural population and is deeply woven into our country’s history and culture.”
He said the sub-sector, however, suffers from a number of challenges including poor and stagnating productivity, weaknesses in support services and lack of profitability in processing, and under-exploitation of the quality of produce in the export market. Productivity indicators (CDM), calving rate, bull/cow ratio, mortality) have also declined overtime challenging the competitiveness of our beef industry.
In 2017, I convened a series of consultative meetings to solicit ideas about the future of the beef sub-sector and the role of the BMC within it. The meetings were actively attended by a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers, Councillors and Botswana National Beef Producers Union.