The country’s population of cattle has decreased to 1.74 million in 2015 from 2.15 million in 2004 even as the birth rate increased from 53.9 percent to 56.7 percent, the 2015 agricultural census has indicated.
Latest figures contained in the just released agricultural census, which is the fourth of its kind since 1982, also showed that mortality rate declined tremendously from 11.9percent to 6.3percent and offtake rate dropped from 8.4percent to 7.7percent.
First, second and third agricultural censuses were conducted in 1982, 1993 and 2004 respectively. The 2015 Agricultural Census was the responsibility of the Statistics Botswana (SB) through the Agricultural Statistics Unit (ASU) in conjunction with the Department of Agricultural Research, Statistics and Policy Development in the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security.
According to Statistician General, Dr. Burton Mguni, the main objective of undertaking the census is to provide benchmarking data on agricultural sector production indicators and other relevant statistics pertaining to agriculture.
He added that these indicators and other relevant statistics are useful in the formulation and review of policies, programmes and projects geared at improving the socio-economic lives of Batswana.
“The number of farmers keeping cattle in the traditional sector decreased significantly from 71 826 in 2004 to 37 753 in 2015, while in the commercial sector the number of holdings increased significantly from 695 in 2004 to 1 301 in 2015,” reads part of the census.
The census stated that the overall cattle holdings decreased significantly from 72 521 in 2004 to 39 054 in 2015 while the majority constituting an estimated 78percent of cattle are kept in the traditional sector.
Low productivity indicators have shown that there is potential to improve the performance of cattle farming in the traditional sector. Furthermore, it has been indicated that the birth rate oscillated between 50 and 60 percent and was the highest in 2007 and lowest in 2008.
“From 2011, the birth rate decreased steadily from 55.0percent until it reached 48.8percent in 2014. However, the birth rate increased to 57.9percent in 2015,” the census has established.
Over the past five years, both the offtake and mortality rates remained below 10percent except in 2013 and 2014 when the mortality rate went above 10percent to 12.9 and 12.4percent respectively.
“However, the mortality rate fell below 10percent in 2015 from 11.9 percent in 2004 to 6.3 percent in 2015,” statistics have shown.