GHANZI: Livestock farmers here have complained that government’s low livestock prices have a negative impact on their business as they are struggling to make profits.
During the media tour organised by Local Enterprises Authority (LEA) last week, farmers urged government to review livestock prices.
The major customer for small stock farmers is the government through the LIMID scheme in which a goat is priced at P750 per head. Farmers complained that the government has suppressed prices without considering the quality of animal breed.
A small stock farmer based in Okarue (Charles Hill sub district), France Kanguaiko, said the Ministry of Agriculture’s efforts to develop farming are not sufficient because they are still struggling to find market for their stock, apart from Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).
“The ministry is not doing enough to find alternatives to assist us. Our market is limited to BMC, so if the government would at least allow us to sell to markets outside Botswana, our businesses would grow,” said Kanguaiko.
Kanguaiko started his business in 1999, breeding only indigenous goats and later expanded it in 2007 to include cattle, Boer goats and sheep. LEA has been assisting him since 2007 with business plans and entrepreneurship development trainings. He has 217 cattle, 80 sheep and 145 goats.
He explained that they are also concerned with government’s lack of consultation as most of the times the ministry does not involve them when coming up with new strategies. “The ministry should know that we are stakeholders in this sector, so they should consider our suggestions when coming up with alternatives. In most cases they come up with policies without involving us, but we are struggling as farmers,” he said.
In Xanagas, a farmer, Menate Koneno said although her business has faced the challenge of her cattle dying, she is managing to sell some stock at BMC. “The business is quite challenging but I am managing to sell some stock at BMC as it is the only market,” she said.
Koneno started her business in 2008 with 21 cattle funded through the Youth Grant Scheme from the Department of Youth and Culture. In 2010, she expanded her business through the assistance of LEA. She was also able to receive funding from Citizen Entrepreneurial Agency (CEDA) and bought 80 more beasts.
“We are able to sell at least 30 cows per year and we are still struggling to pay the loan because the market prices are low, therefore we are not able to cover all the expenses at one time. However BMC prices are fluctuating and sometimes when they decrease, it affects our businesses significantly,” she said.
LEA branch manager for Ghanzi, Martha Keikanetswe said the Authority is in the process of submitting concerns of small stock farmers in Ghanzi to the Ministry of Agriculture. “Farmers in Ghanzi have complained about the suppressed livestock prices offered by government, so we are in the process of compiling the report which we will then submit it to the ministry,” said Keikanetswe.