The abattoir failed to hit slaughter target since 1989
Since its commissioning in 1989, Francistown abattoir has not achieved its designed slaughter capacity nor even the world standard required for an abattoir to operate, hence the government took a decision to put it under care and maintenance.
The Botswana Meat commission (BMC) abattoir that was designed to slaughter 380 cattle a day has actually been slaughtering on average between 165 and 167 cattle a day which is 43.9 per cent capacity utilization, the minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia has told Parliament.
Ralotsia noted that Francistown catchment area does not have enough cattle to support the abattoir.
“In the year 2012/13 the BMC Francistown abattoir catchment area had the following cattle population; BW1 and BW4 Red Zones Cattle Population; Boteti 133,757, Bobirwa (7) 120,000, North East 33,131, Nata 159,646, Palapye 159,929. Zone 4(a) 22,400, Serowe 181,147, Tonota 48,394, Sub Total 56,358, Sub Total 302,046, Grand Total 858,404. I have chosen to illustrate the cattle population by zone or district from the year 2012/2013 because after that year the cattle population started going down and is currently at its lowest,” Ralotsia explained.
The minister’s contention was that, the total estimated number of cattle that year in the Francistown BMC abattoir catchment area was 858,404 cattle, meaning the offtake is about 8 per cent, and therefore the 8 per cent cattle available for slaughter in the area irrespective of whether at BMC, slaughter slabs and municipal abattoirs would have been 68,672 cattle.He was trying to demonstrate that even if all the 68 000 cattle were to be taken to BMC, they would still have not reached the required number because the total number in the catchment area alone was not even enough to support the abattoir.
Asked whether delayed payment to farmers was one factor that could be discouraging farmers to sell to BMC, Ralotsia admitted that, “delayed payment to our clientele is also a contributory factor but there are quite a number of other factors. The issue of prices; I think is arguable. We know that BMC in this country is the best payer by far besides the fact that it is currently going through delays in paying farmers.”
Ralotsia recently held meetings with farmers in and around the city of Francistown where he said it was necessary to demonstrate, not to only farmers, that their submission of cattle to the BMC did not reach the required minimum.
“Last year we exploited 14 per cent of the capacity only. I remember specifically, I had said if farmers could supply a minimum of 800 cattle a week, then that could be considered but up to now that has not been met. The only number that was raised to us by the mayor after my address to the council was that, they could raise only 1050 around July and nothing more,” Ralotsia pointed out.
Zone 10, which covers Central District from Mookane, Mahalapye, Shoshong, Western Sandveld and Thabala villages supplies both Lobatse and Francistown.
To try and resolve cattle transportation problem, Ralotsia revealed that he is in discussion with transporters such as Botswana Railways to consider reintroducing cattle transportation rail trucks.
“Furthermore, we encourage cooperatives, private transporters and cattle agencies to assist farmers to transport cattle to Lobatse.”