The Minister of Agricultural Production and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia has disclosed that government is looking at ending the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) export monopoly.
When contributing to the debate on the motion requesting government to end the BMC export monopoly brought to Parliament by Member of Parliament for Gantsi North, Noah Salakae on Friday, Ralotsia said he would present recommendations to Cabinet on the privatisation of the BMC.
Ralotsia said there have been discussions around the issue, which forced his ministry to engage a consultant, audit and accounting firm KPMG to conduct a study on the beef industry and advice government on what needs to be done.
He said that ending the beef industry monopoly would lead to a liberalised market, which could create efficiency and increased throughput.
However, the minister said Botswana needs to tread carefully and not put itself in a situation which would kill the industry like in other countries.
He also said there was no need for Parliament to debate the motion because government is already doing something related to what the motion is seeking.
Salakae had called on government to end the BMC beef export monopoly, which he said contributed to a declining throughput and compromised value chain over the years.
He said the beef industry has for years endured the ache of stunted growth; and lack of sustainability as such
“I believe getting rid of the BMC monopoly is the best way out of the beef dilemma. Correctly put, liberalisation of the Botswana beef export market, in my view, is long overdue largely because the private sector is now developed and capable,” he said.
He said the high prices of the EU export market are not cascading down to the farmers, but instead lost to the inefficiencies of the BMC monopoly.
Salakae added that the continuing depressed state of the beef industry is failing to stimulate the growth of secondary private sector industries, like feedlots, abattoirs, tanneries, meat processing, pet food, service industries like transport, fencing farm supplies etc.
The legislator said the Lobatse Plant is old and almost obsolete by modern standards and will need major refurbishment in the near future, and at great cost, which may lead to a shut down.
“The beef industry urgently needs a new direction with less control.
A new direction, which will allow farmers to export live cattle and realise higher prices; stimulate changes to farming practices and herd management; enable higher productivity; higher off-take, and improved supplies to the BMC along with live cattle exports,” he added.