The Government has spent approximately P25 million in acquiring the 162 cattle that arrived yesterday in Gaborone from Texas in the United States of America.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi said the amount includes logistics expenditures such as transporting and ensuring that the animals arrive in Botswana in good health after they left their country of origin.
Speaking after the arrival of the 141 bulls and 21 heifers, he said the animals are of different breeds and are owned by the state. President Masisi said prior to the country’s independence, the colonial government imported several tens of animals from the United States with a mission to improve the quality of cattle in the Bechuanaland, but the citizens never benefitted from the initiative as the cattle were taken by the settlers in Mafikeng.
When the country’s capital city moved to Gaborone the cattle and other related records remained in Mafikeng and were never accounted for.
He said when he launched the revival of the Ramatlabama Artificial Insemination Ranch last year, he had in mind a system that will push his dream of seeing the national herd grow significantly.
The President said the national herd has suffered a serious decline from 3 million cattle in the seventies and eightees to just 1.7 million according to the 2015 statistics. He said the cattle population was compromised at the advantage of wildlife, particularly elephants that enjoyed the privilege of killing both livestock and farmers with impunity.
“The times have changed and we are doing things differently. There are 106 Brahman bulls, 21 white Brahman heifers, 4 red Brahman bulls, 2 Black Angus bulls, 2 red Angus bulls, five Sherlyn bulls, five Brinen bulls, 10 Beefmaster bulls, and seven other bulls. That’s the consignment on that Boeing 747 aeroplane,” he said.
The cattle were procured from the JD Hudgins Incorporation in the state of Texas, a company that had been breeding cattle for generations. The company representative, Clay Hudgins said they have exported cattle to many states in the USA and beyond the US borders. He explained that the cattle breeds are of high quality, very productive and can produce up to 35 offsprings in their lifetime, something he said Batswana should take advantage of.
The cattle were loaded into several trucks and were to be transported to Ramatlabama Artificial Insemination Ranch where they will be used for semen production which will be sold locally and for export.
Meanwhile, a foggy morning nearly disrupted the day’s proceedings and caused some flight delays as some passengers were seen disembarking from Air Botswana aircraft, and only boarding again after the sky had cleared just after 10am.