Milking it

COW COMP: Ngamiland beef prices under the microscope

Butcheries reaping big from Ngamiland beef

Big chain stores and local butcheries around the country are taking advantage of Ngamiland beef, buying meat at cheap prices from Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun only to pump up the prices when reselling in their own shops.

Speaking at a Commodity Based Trade (CBT) workshop in the tourist town this week, BMC’s Executive Manager for Maun and Lobatse Lifestock Production Department, Kenneth Mokobati said although he could not reveal the exact prices of the bulk sales, the buyers often negotiate riding on Ngamiland’s Foot and Mouth issues.

Admitting there is a stigma attached to beef from the area, Mokobati said, “We used to brand Ngamiland beef that it is from Maun and it was not selling well as expected, but since we removed the label, the sales have gone up.”

For decades, Ngamiland and the Okavango regions were declared a red zone due to frequent Foot and Mouth outbreaks.

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Indeed, despite episodes becoming increasingly isolated in recent years, the district remains in the red and the stigma continues.

To move past this, it was suggested beef from the area is rebranded.

“We know that our beef is tastier, and good. We have not had Foot and Mouth outbreak in a long time and all animals that go for slaughter are tested for any kind of disease. We sell clean beef, grass fed,” noted local farmer, Jack Ramsden.

The Sub Regional Representative for the World Health Organisation for Animal Health, Dr Moetapele Letshwenyo noted Botswana has a tendency of being trapped in the past.

“We are still stuck in the 1980s, caught in our own cocoon. If you look back, in the past no meat was allowed to leave Ngamiland, but to date we sell meat from this area even across borders because there is nothing wrong with the meat, it is healthy and clean!”

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The workshop was organised by Conservation International to demonstrate CBT implementation in Botswana and to launch the programmes’ handbook.

The five-year programme, which has been running since 2021 in Habu and Eretsha area and aims to increase efficiency, competitiveness and sustainability in Ngamiland’s beef chain, was funded by European Union to the tune of P6.8 million.

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