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Ngamiland farmers in price dispute with BMC

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Ngamiland farmers in price dispute with BMC
BEEF PRODUCTION: Proving costly for both farmers and the commission

Farmers in Ngamiland have resisted plans by the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) to lower purchasing price of live cattle from P19 per kg to the proposed P8 kg.

The defiant farmers have since refused to sell their cattle to the commission at its proposed price, which they have argued was way below the cost of beef production.

Explaining the decision to reduce the purchasing price, BMC Maun Plant Manager, Oabona Ramotshwana said that after an outbreak of a Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Sehithwa last year, there was a resolution that post FMD; cattle slaughtered in the region should be coming from quarantine.

Ramothswana noted that with the new strategy it is the commission that would be responsible for costs including the transportation of livestock from a farmer’s kraal to the quarantine and because of the offsetting of farmers costs, the BMC arrived at the proposed purchase price of P8 per kg for live weight.

Farmers however rejected the proposed price and suggested at least P14 per kg.

When the two trading parties could not agree, the farmers resolved to take up the issue with Agricultural Development and Food Security Minister, Patrick Ralotsia.

In an interview with Voice Money, the Chairperson of the Okavango Region Farmers Committee, Vister Moruti stated that they have already lobbied most farmers in the region not to sell their cattle to the BMC until the matter is resolved.

Moruti accused the BMC of choosing to neglect the cost borne by farmers in rearing their livestock when setting the commission-buying price.

Meanwhile Ramotshwana says they have reverted back to the initial production process of before FMD that is buying cattle at P19.50 per kg pending the farmers’ meeting with the minister.

“We were faced with a possible closure because there was no production, so we came up with an alternative,” explained Ramotshwana who added that they resumed production about two weeks ago.

“Production is going well, our target is to slaughter 120 cattle per day and we have been getting between 106 and 110 per day”, he said

However Ramotshwana revealed that the failure to fully meet the post FMD quarantine requirements, the commission is limited in its marketing.

“So far we can only supply the greater Botswana the DRC markets,” he noted.