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Hope for Francistown farmers

Hope for Francistown farmers

Council abattoir to open in two months

Farmers in and around Francistown are waiting with bated breath for a response from the Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia on the possibility of re-opening the Botswana Meat Commission plant in Francistown.

Francistown City Mayor, Sylvia Muzila at a Full Council Session on Monday, revealed this.

Muzila said that after the address by the minister on April 12th they consulted with farmers to urge them to bring their cattle to BMC in large numbers in order to meet the required daily quota of cattle to be slaughtered in the facility.

Explaining the abattoir shutdown, Ralotsia had said that cabinet took a deliberate decision to close down the Francistown plant because it had operated at a loss ever since it opened in 1983, failing to reach the expected 70 percent of its annual killing capacity.

The Minister further pointed out that 2017 was the worst year when only 14 percent of the annual capacity was killed at the Francistown abattoir.

“The Francistown plant was expected to slaughter 380 animals a day but it had only averaged 100 cattle a week and sometimes nothing at all,” Ralotsia told councilors at a tense meeting.

However Muzila revealed that after consultations, farmers and feedlot owners assured her that they have the capacity to meet the 800 cattle per week quota that was proposed to them by the Ministry.

“We have communicated this to the minister and we await his response, which we hope will be faxed today,” said Muzila.

Hope for Francistown farmers
OPTIMISTIC: FCC Mayor Sylvia Muzila

In more good news for farmers the Mayor revealed that she was hopeful that the local Council Abattoir would be back in operation in two-three months.

The abattoir, which was leased to a private operator, Judex Ventures was recently closed because there were no ponds to hold wastewater while awaiting treatment.

Responding to a question posed by Francistown West MP, Ignatius Moswaane on the closure of the council abattoir, Minister Ralotsia said that it was Cabinet’s decision to place that particular abattoir under maintenance and care because untreated water was being released into the sewage line and therefore posed a health risk as there was the ever present possibility of uninspected meat finding its way into local butcheries.

The Mayor however gave assurance that the situation will soon return to normalcy as the Building Control Committee, which, sat on the 26th, has approved the architectural drawings for the pre-treatment plant and the investor has also registered its lease.

“The construction of the Pre-Treatment Plant started last week. Indeed there’s light at the end of the tunnel and I hope the abattoir will be ready in at least two months,” Muzila said.