Technology Resolves Farming Challenges

| May 11, 2015

Minister of Agriculture, Mr Patrick Ralotsia has appealed to farmers to adopt new farming technologies such as weaner production and feed lotting to increase throughput.

This, he said when addressing the Botswana National Beef Producers Union first national council meeting that was held in Gaborone Saturday (May 9). He said Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) was currently operating below capacity owing to the low throughput.

Mr Ralotsia said government was aware that livestock production was currently besieged with numerous challenges such as frequent droughts due to climate change, low productivity and disease outbreaks.

He noted that the challenges cannot be tacked by individual farmers, but need collective action by the union members. As part of addressing low productivity, he said governments of Botswana and New Zealand have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on beef training and that it was currently ongoing at Ramatlabama Ranch Management Training Centre.

He said the training will also be rolled out to other parts of the country. The minister said the beef cluster concept was also being implemented and will ultimately translate into increased beef productivity.

The project is being piloted at Ghanzi, Kgatleng and Central districts and will be rolled out to other districts. Mr Ralotsia further called on farmers to comply with the European Union markets requirements, adding that record keeping was essential especially with the introduced Botswana Animal Identification Traceability System (BAITS) that is the gateway to marketing Botswana cattle.

“Animal husbandry practices should be paid attention to, good herd health, animal welfare, proper stocking rates and animal nutrition are of critical importance for the overall productivity of beef sub-sector,’ he said.

He said the average of national calving rates are currently at 53 per cent instead of an ideal 80 per cent and this, he said calls for producers to play a part. Chairperson of Botswana National Beef Producers Union, Mr Madongo Direng said BMC’s failure to pay farmers on time was not healthy for the beef industry.

“As a union, we call for an urgent decision to transform the BMC. The commission should focus on its core mandate of slaughtering cattle and selling the products,” he said.

He suggested that feed lotting should be done by farmers and not the BMC.

On other issues he called on government to recognise the union as the only mouth piece of beef producers in the country as well as to support it. Mr Direng further called government to use export levy funds to develop the beef sector as well as to strengthen the district farmers associations.

He a urged members of the union to stand up and take ownership of the beef industry as producers, adding that at the moment cattle industry was besieged with numerous problems that lead to its deterioration.

The meeting was held under the theme, Farmers Union taking a leading role in transforming the beef industry in Botswana.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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