Meet the boss
The first private abattoir in the Central District, Jago Beef was launched in Palapye in 2014 putting an end to slaughter slabs and other methods where health is not guaranteed.
The abattoir was established in 2012 but only started operating in December, 2014. After conceptualizing the idea, electrician and former Principal at Francistown Technical College, Badiredi Phampa, 50, said his elder brother needed someone to run it and made him an offer he couldn’t resist.
Though he had no business background, Phampa had at one point of his career been in charge of all brigades hence he reckoned being in charge of an abattoir would not really be a huge task. He took a break recently to talk to Archie Mokoka about the beef industry and his transition from running schools to running an abattoir.
Q. Briefly tell us about Jago Beef.
My elder brother, Joseph Gampone who is the founder travelled to South Africa and benchmarked the concept and in 2012 Jago Beef was established. We only started operating in December, 2014 because we were still constructing and acquiring equipment.
Q. Has your brother ever worked in an abattoir?
No. He was a plant operator at BPC.
I was principal at Francistown Technical College. He needed someone to run the business and he recruited me. Our production manager has 13 years experience from BMC and he has been training staff.
Q. What gave you confidence to take up the job besides the good offer?
I’m an electrician by profession but I was in charge of northern brigades which means I was in charge of 21 brigades. I was also part of the team that facilitated the takeover of brigades by government. Otherwise I have a human resources diploma from BOCODOL and a management certificate from the University of Stellenbosch.
Q. Are you a shareholder too?
We reached an agreement, but I’m contributing for my equity in cash and kind.
Q. Was penetrating the market a challenge?
Butcheries were informed that slaughter slabs would be closed for health reasons so there was no alternative because we are the only abattoir in the central.
Q. Do all the butcheries buy from you?
There are 50 butcheries in Palapye, but only about a third do business with us. Where are the rest? I suspect they smuggle carcass which has not been inspected by health agents. It also contributes to stock theft which is already on the rise. It will be very difficult to control.
Q. And how is your relationship with farmers?
The response from farmers was very good because as opposed to BMC we buy cash. In that regard we beat BMC hands down because farmers like any other business need cash to run their business. BMC takes a very long time while others make them wait for seven days.
Q. Any other challenges?
Power charges have gone up and there is a high rate of measles and to contain it we have to freeze carcasses for four days at -50 degrees and that consumes a lot of power. But we are working with BITRI to produce green power and solar energy. We also use a lot of water and again we are working with BITRI to recycle water. The market is also small but we have been contacted by Zambians, Namibians and South Africans to supply them if a window of opportunity opens.
Q. Isn’t BMC enjoying a protected monopoly on exports?
The time is overdue to open the market. The government didn’t have capacity to supply slabs with inspectors and there were no cold rooms to detain measles. There were also issues of traceability and theft all because the government provides services under one roof and we have closed that loophole. Government should therefore be supportive so that we supply at least one country. If that opportunity comes, we would be more sustainable and grow and that would translate to more jobs for Batswana.
Q. Do you do anything with the byproducts?
In the second phase of the project we will have a hides and skin warehouse. We will give young people an opportunity to open a tannery, pet food processing and the like. In stage three we will have beef processing as well. If supported we are sure of more employment opportunities for the youth. There is also opportunity for the ministry of energy to take moswang and turn it into green power because it produces biogas. This would greatly reduce burden on BPC. There is already someone trained for this at the ministry therefore it’s time to do this.
Q. What milestones have you achieved so far?
I have run workshops for farmers to change their mindset so we can reach EU standards. We made them appreciate that trucks that carry meat have to be cleaned after carrying the meat and educated them about measles and how to control it. We do regular visits to butcheries to ensure that their workers have health certificates. There are regular raids to ensure compliance of hygiene standards.
Q. Do you have time for family?
I do, I am not as busy as I was in my previous job so I do spend quality time with my wife and three children.