Beef Industry Valuable to Economy

| November 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

The beef industry has potential to add value to the economy and improve Batswana’s livelihoods.

Different speakers agreed during a seminar on November 17 that the beef industry had to be improved for it to compete in the global market. A study undertaken by consultants showed that Botswana was a small exporter of beef by global standards.

The country only had three per cent of the global market and the beef industry contributed less than two per cent of GDP. When presenting the findings, Dr Agapitos Hatzi Petros of ITC Consultant, said despite Botswana exporting to the EU, its market share remained small.

Botswana has 2, 5 million cattle, 80 per cent of it in communal farms hence they needed to be nurtured and developed. He further said participation of youths and women remained limited as it was dominated by old men.

Batswana communal farmers kept cattle as savings rather than for commercial purposes. The consultant said cattle in the foot and mouth affected areas was negatively affected and his counterpart, Mr Subhrendu Chatterji, said while concentration had been in eradicating the disease, beef from these areas could still be packaged and sold.

Other than foot and mouth, other challenges were lack of skills as farmers had not adopted new technologies and infrastructure development. Mr Chatterji said supporting infrastructure was fragmented while the Department of Veterinary Services (S) needed to be reorganised and should outsource some of its services as it was over stretched.

Another problem was measles which consultants said was worrisome adding that it was higher than that of South Africa and Namibia.

Meanwhile, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) chief executive officer, Dr Akolang Tombale said his organisation, although it had been able to register a profit, faced operational challenges as it operated with cash up front.

He said given the poor quality of cattle, they kept them in feed lots for 90 days to make them EU compliant. It again took four weeks to reach the market and 30 days to realise profits from the sales.

Dr Tombale said despite the number of times it took to reap benefits, the organisation paid farmers within 48 hours. He concurred with the consultants saying 10 per cent of cattle sent to BMC was condemned due to measles, adding that was a loss of P73 million.

Another challenge the corporation faced was animal tracing saying five per cent of cattle had multiple boluses, thus P100 million lost due to inefficiency of the system. He said the traditional cattle delivery had serious limitations hence the BMC never reached the 60 per cent quota set by EU

EU still remained Botswana’s biggest market, he said. Talking about the future of the industry, Dr Tombale said Botswana could not compete on volume, as BMC slaughtered 3 500 cattle per month at its peak compared to 500 000 slaughtered by Brazil.

This then called for Botswana to concentrate on the niche market but the product had to be of high quality, consistent and should meet requisite volumes.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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