BMC decries supply of underweight cattle

Over 80% of BMC supply comes from communal farmers
Over 80% of BMC supply comes from communal farmers

Farmers’ failure to supply the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) with European Union (EU) compliant cattle poses a threat to the commission’s turnaround strategy.

Having been at or near bottom in the past three years, the BMC decided to come up with a three-year turnaround strategy, which comes to an end next year. With the strategy, the commission had hoped to supply EU with more beef.

The executive manager for livestock procurement, Kenneth Makubate said most cattle in Botswana were not compliant with EU standards because of communal farming. Cattle should meet certain standards in order to satisfy the EU market requirements.

“The EU requires that cattle should be traceable and that they should be in the right weight because if they don’t comply we don’t satisfy the market,” he said.

Makubate said most cattle that were brought to the BMC were not in the right weight, which compelled the commission to put them in feed lots for three months so that they reach the required weight.

“If they don’t comply it means we don’t satisfy the market. That is why we have introduced feedlots to try and alleviate the problem of throughput,” he said.

The BMC is also sensitising farmers so that they understand the importance of complying with the requirements.

BMC currently provides its abattoir needs with 70 percent of cattle bought through its field-buying, also known as Direct Cattle Purchase (DCP) programme, whereas privately owned feedlots only supply 30 percent.

EU still remains a lucrative market for Botswana beef. BMC supplied the EU market with 6,000 tonnes of beef in 2013 and 8,000 tonnes last year. By the end of 2014, BMC recorded revenue of P1.16 billion from 144,000 cattle that were slaughtered. This was an increase from P1.08 billion registered in 2013 from the 139,000 slaughtered.

In June, BMC adjusted Carcass Dress Mass (CDM) prices for EU cattle in order to increase throughput.

Public relations and communications manager at BMC, Brian Dioka said in an earlier interview that the adjustment sought to redefine the role of the BMC and gradually increase that of the farmers within the beef value-chain. He said the alignment of prices, which affected and benefits all private feedlot holdings that are EU registered, will also give feedlot hopefuls in Botswana a golden chance to take up the business of providing finishing facilities or feedlots and supply the commission with only compliant cattle.

“This ultimately enhances the inclusiveness of all farmers in the sector, but also results in making BMC achieve profits for the farmers,” he said.

He said the incentives attached will benefit only private feedlotters that have signed contracts of supply or livestock procurement agreements (LPA) with BMC, detailing the time, quality and quantity agreed to supply.

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