P300 million upgrade scheduled for December
Despite being plagued by crippling losses, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has been deemed too important to die.
The bold declaration was made by President Masisi during last week’s Serowe District Show, which was held under the theme, ‘Commercialization of Agriculture’.
Masisi revealed that in response to the BMC’s lacklustre performance, government has made concerted efforts to upgrade the commission.
The move is intended to turn the BMC, which is mandated with the slaughter and marketing of all Botswana beef exports, into a profit-making entity.
In June, Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia had told parliament that the upgrading of BMC in Lobatse was expected to begin this December, at a cost of P300 Million.
The Minister was responding to a question in parliament and had further stressed that the Lobatse outfit needed urgent attention to meet standards required for an abattoir of its magnitude.
Continuing with his address, President Masisi noted that Botswana’s biggest competitors for the European Union (EU) market are Brazil and Australia and thus the BMC must maintain EU meat export guidelines so as not to lose out to these competitors.
He highlighted that there are 750, 000 cattle and 520, 000 small stock consisting of goats and sheep in the Central District alone, adding that the district’s cattle contribute 36 percent of the country’s cattle population.
“If we were to slaughter all these animals for a lunch meal to feed the Chinese nation, it wouldn’t feed all of them,” said the President, emphasising the immense market that farming should look to feed.
Masisi also advised farmers to look into the small stock production market in Zambia, which feeds into Saudi Arabia and China. He revealed the government has put up programmes to assist small stock farmers to venture into these markets.
“Government has opened up pastures for small stock farmers to maximize profits,” he explained, further identifying Agro-Tourism as an avenue locals should consider to improve their financial status while creating employment for the unemployed.
He noted one can turn their farm into an enterprise where tourists go to experience traditional Tswana customs associated with farming such as leather tanning, pestle and mortar making and traditional cattle praising poetry amongst others.
“These activities create jobs for cleaners, drivers, caterers as well as travel agents,” said the President, who encouraged Central District farmers, business community and the youth to use the facilities erected at the Serowe show grounds to hold cattle auctions and other activities they may deem fit.