Gov’t restricts live cattle exports


Government through the Ministry of Agriculture has tightened the criteria for live cattle exports, restricting selling of all breeding animals mainly bulls, cows and heifers outside the country.

Although no reasons were advanced, the local beef industry has expressed concerns that unrestrained live cattle exports could deplete both the country’s national herd and its quality as the current cattle population signals that the country is fast losing Botswana beef competitive edge and uniqueness.

Botswana’s cattle population currently stands at 2.1 million, but the numbers are said to be declining due to several factors that include but not limited to poor livestock husbandry management practices which in turn leads to low productivity.

According to a recent statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, no export of all breeding animals is allowed under the dispensation on the export of live slaughter cattle and export of meat products.

“The Ministry of Agriculture informs the public that no export of all breeding animals is allowed under the dispensation on the export of meat products. The public should note that this includes cull bulls and cows,” read the statement.

However, farmers can continue the live export of weaners, slaughter ready cattle, culls, cull bulls, and toilers.

As part of liberalising the beef sector, in October 2020, the government allowed farmers to export live cattle independent of the state-owned Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).

This was meant to end the perennial tussle between cattle producers and the BMC as farmers had over the years been frustrated by the monopoly the meat Commission enjoyed as the sole exporter of beef in the country.

The live cattle dispensation will run for four years and ends in 2024. This has resulted in farmers cashing in P447.2 million in the first three months. In, 2021, the first full year available for the live cattle export, values sold hit P787 million by November.

BMC Chief Strategy Officer, Brian Dioka said they have also been working around the clock to ensure that they remain competitive and compete in a liberalised beef exports market.

As a result, he said, the BMC has prioritised the emphasis of balancing out its operations with throughput as a way of controlling costs and making the business sustainable under the current sector and market challenges.

“We have revised our pricing regime, introducing two pricing incentives in less than six months as a way of attracting farmers. We have also improved our payment turnaround times,” Dioka told BusinessWeek.

“We believe our efforts would be able to dissuade farmers from exporting live cattle without necessarily appealing for discontinuation of live cattle exports. BMC would rather use pro-competition factors to compete in fully liberalised beef exports market.”

Government has expressed its desire to liberalise the beef sector. During his recent address at Sandveld Ranchers Field Day, President Mokgweetsi Masisi told farmers that his government was in the process of establishing the Meat Industry Regulatory Authority (MIRA) to liberalise the beef industry and promote the competitiveness of the sector.

The move will allow full participation of all key value chain players in the running of the beef industry and the development of the necessary linkages that will have the net effect of giving the farmer a voice.

“Recently, the government has adopted a beef cluster strategy, which has identified areas of improvement that include ways of upgrading production, research and technology transfer as well as the promotion and marketing of beef,” he said. “The strategy aims at unlocking the value chain linkages and promoting market access.”

Masisi revealed that the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Government of New Zealand were also implementing theMinistry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Government of New Zealand were also implementing the beef productivity training initiative which aims to improve productivity by enhancing the knowledge of livestock husbandry practices.

The programme also provides practical industry-led livestock management training through tailored technical assistance, which draws on New Zealand’s comparative advantage in beef production.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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