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Licence to kill!

Licence to kill!

Govt issues F/town donkey abattoir with licence

The Government has resumed the licencing of donkey slaughterhouses in a move aimed at creating employment and revenue, according to Agricultural Development and Food Security Minister, Patrick Ralotsia.

The Minister’s revelation came when addressing a special full council session in Francistown last Thursday – a move viewed as a reneged towards the decision the Government took last year, following the closure of a Chinese-run abattoir based just outside the second city.

The Government, alongside many other African Governments, moved to crack down on the multi-billion dollar trade in donkey meat and skins after a spate of killings of the animals across the country fuelled by soaring demand from China.

Export licences for donkeys and their products were suspended following the widespread slaughter of thousands of the beasts in recent years, many of the creatures killed for their skins, which were then sold to the Middle East for use in traditional medicine.

The donkey meat and skins industry is said to be worth billions of dollars and China is increasingly looking to Africa to satisfy demand after its own donkey population dropped sharply.

According to official statistics, the donkey numbers in China have nearly halved from 11 million in the 1990s to six million in 2013.

It is against this backdrop that the Botswana Government has realised the industry’s potential, hence resuming the licencing of donkey slaughterhouses explained Ralotsia in a follow-up interview with The Voice soon after addressing the Francistown councillors.

“The donkey meat and skins industry poses a potential almost similar to that of the beef production,” he noted, adding that his Government has issued a Chinese company based on the outskirts of Francistown with a donkey slaughtering and export licence.

Ralotsia said the slaughterhouses will create much-needed employment opportunities especially in Francistown, where a number of the country’s working class were left jobless following the recent closure of nearby mining entities.

“We are looking at the selling of donkey products to lucrative markets in China. There is a high potential of the country making some revenue from the donkey products,” he said.

Donkey hooves are believed to contain ‘medicinal’ gelatin, while the meat, consumed in some parts of China, is understood to be more nutritious than beef and is enjoyed in burgers and stews.