Beef cluster to boost exports

Beef exports to the EU has driven BMC back to profitability
Beef exports to the EU has driven BMC back to profitability

The initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture to develop beef clusters is expected to improve local production and boost exports.

This was shared at an orientation workshop held in Gaborone for farmers from the Kgatleng, Ghanzi and Western Sandveldt areas to discuss the beef cluster concept.

Speaking on the sidelines at the workshop, Agricultural Hub coordinator, Edmont Moabi said the initiative was a response to government’s decision to adopt the economic cluster development for the country. He said the cluster concept seeks to bring together all stakeholders in the beef industry including the Ministry of Agriculture, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), farmers’ syndicates, Botswana National Beef Producers Union and representatives from Botswana College of Agriculture.

“We decided to come up with the cluster concept after the government had sought advice from a leading economist and researcher, Professor Michael Porter, from the Harvard Business School. He is the one who suggested that for the local beef industry to improve, government should focus on beef exports,” said Moabi.

He explained that the clusters would be introduced in geographical areas, adding that the choice to start with the three areas of Kgatleng, Ghanzi and Western Sandveldt was due to the fact that cattle rearing is high in those areas. He revealed that the workshop had invited 10 people from each area who are expected to go back with information that they would in turn relay to the others in their area.

“The whole idea of the beef cluster is to improve beef production in the country so that it can be marketable outside the country,” he said. He added that in the past, the country had failed to meet the quota required by the European Union (EURO) market, but they hoped the cluster initiative would solve this problem.

Recently, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) chief executive officer, Akolang Tombale stated that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed to allow the country to fully access the EU market. He said that in 2013, the country only sent about 6,000 tonnes of meat products to Europe, whereas in 2014, there was a slight improvement to about 10,000 tonnes.

The beef cluster initiative was a welcome development to most of the workshop attendees, as they felt it was the answer to their cattle farming woes.

Thari Linchwe, a cattle farmer from Dikgonnye in the Kgatleng area said the initiative would allow them to rear their cattle in a professional manner.

“Farmers have long had problems with associations. The cluster initiative will definitely come to our rescue as it will ensure farmers are focused and produce quality beef,” he said.

Linchwe added that it was high time farming was turned into lucrative businesses, in order to diversify the economy.

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