BEIJING, CHINA: Botswana’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Sasara George has implored the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to quicken the process of satisfying Chinese requirements for beef exports to the Asian economic giant.
Botswana is seeking to compensate the decline of its beef exports to the lucrative European Union (EU) by exploring other markets such as China and other African countries.
Speaking to Mmegi Business on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the start of Huawei’s “Seeds For The Future” training programme for top Botswana ICT students, George decried the slow pace of taking advantage of the huge Chinese opportunity for beef exports.
“We started the process of trying to export beef to China as far back as 2011, but up to now not much progress has been made. The Namibians began their process much later than us but they have already secured this market. The first Namibian beef consignment is expected in China later this month. I have sent a delegation to Botswana to find out what could be causing the problem but it has just been back and forth,” he said.
Beef exports to the EU were frozen in February 2011 over livestock traceability concerns, leading to a decline in exports to $68.3 million, sharply down from $127.6 million in 2010.
EU lifted the ban in July 2012 after the DVS complied with strict EU veterinary and quarantine procedures but since then, BMC has failed to bounce back to the pre-ban levels of exports.
According to the envoy, among some of the Chinese requirements are certification that the source market is cleared of Foot and Mouth, Lung and Mad Cow diseases. With the current slowdown in the Chinese economy likely to trim Botswana traditional diamond and copper exports to the Asian country, George said ‘thinking out of the box’ can also help Botswana diversify its foreign exchange revenues.
“This is the time for the private sector to be aggressive and help Botswana reduce the reliance on minerals exports. Apart from beef, we can also explore other opportunities in the Chinese market. For example, there is a huge market for donkey meat in China. It’s a delicacy here and it fetches more money per tonne than beef. People back home always laugh at this proposal when I pitch it but with our huge donkey population, I don’t see why we cannot tap into this niche market and capitalise on it,” he added. During the ceremony, George said the ICT industry is one of the sectors that can drive Botswana’s economic growth and spur faster and efficient service delivery especially in the areas of health and education.
“Through the training and education that Huawei is imparting, I believe this can be a launch pad for Batswana ICT students to become innovative and come up with sustainable initiatives that will lead to the growth of the sector,” he told the delegates.
“Seeds For The Future” is Huawei’s global corporate social responsibility programme in which it leverages its world-leading ICT technologies to cultivate ICT professionals and thus drive knowledge transformation.
The programme has benefitted about 10,000 students worldwide in over 45 countries.