Calling for cows

Baitshepi Sekgweng
IN DEMAND: Cattle owned by SDBFA members

Farmers take the lead in efforts to increase National Herd

In an effort to moo-ve the national herd forward and increase the number of cows in the country, the Southern District Beef Farmers Association (SDBFA) will once again get together with stakeholders to discuss ways of improving their livestock quantity and quality.

Set for 31 March – 1 April, the field day marks its eagerly awaited return after three years in the Covid-19 enforced wilderness.

The two-day event, which before the pandemic reared its ugly head was an ever present for 45 years, will be held at Camp View Stables, Naledi Farms, some 15km from Jwaneng.

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Held under the theme ‘Increasing the National Herd, Unpacking the Beef Value Chain’, the field day is expected to attract various stakeholders from the livestock sector such as: feedlot owners, feed producers and farmers.

Further, Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare is expected to headline the event as he is heading a portfolio which includes key stakeholders in the value chain, including: Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), Local Enterprises Agency (LEA), Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) and Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).

Speaking to Voice Money, SDBFA Chairperson, Marx Mophuting revealed there was much they hope to achieve over the two days.

“This is a platform for farmers and the community at large to engage and share knowledge on best practices. It is at these kind of events, as farmers, where we get the opportunity to engage with stakeholders, share ideas, exhibit our products and services, do livestock sale and networking. As a result we will have an exhibition of all animals, cattle, goats, sheep and pigs, and an auction sale on the day,” he said.

In 2017, the national herd stood at 1.15 million, the number declining by 15 percent over the next two years, a drastic drop that posed a huge threat to the local beef industry.

Fortunately, a revival of sorts has taken place in recent years, with the total number of cattle in Botswana estimated to be at around 1.5 million as of 2022.

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Although this is promising, it remains well below levels of the past, when national herd numbers peaked at around 2.63 million in 2010 – according to Statistics Botswana.

Mophuting is convinced that for the national herd to grow, the entire value chain needs to participate in farmer education in order to allow farmers to unlock value therefore leading to maximized profits.

“That is why we will have activities such as artificial insemination and pregnancy test of animals on the day on site. Further we are not leaving out workshops since farmers have to do engagements with feed lot owners and feed producers. Over the years we have been able to improve in terms of animal husbandry on how to take care of our livestock. Even in terms of quality, our cattle has improved. Our region used to be dominated by Afrikaner bulls but now we have a wide range of breeds. Our infrastructure has improved too since we now have cattle crushes,” said Mophuting.

The SDBFA was established in 1974 comprising of both cattle ranches and cattle posts in the southern district of Botswana. From the onset, membership was strictly for cattle farmers. However, it has since broadened to house all livestock farmers with the premise of helping individual farmers optimise their operations and ultimately profitability.

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