SELEBI-PHIKWE: CEDA clients are faced with several problems, among them market penetration and competition from more established South African companies which export to Botswana.
CEDA clients expressed these concerns and others during a media tour organised by CEDA last week. The tour started at Richmark Poultry in Moletemane village.
Richmark Operations Manager, Kim van der Mere, said the company was started as an ostrich farm 31 years ago but as time went on, they switched to broilers because of market needs.
She said the company has assets valued at P21 million. They slaughter between 9 000 and 10 000 chickens a day and make nearly P4 million a month in profits.
"We were offered a loan by CEDA in 2003 to expand the business," van der Mere said. "We also got additional funding to construct an abattoir, an additional broiler house and to purchase new refrigeration equipment."
Richmark currently has 20 percent of the Botswana market and does not export yet.
"Buoyed by the new market of supplying the Nando's franchise, CEDA gave us another loan that we used to purchase a brine injector and other machines."
The company, which employs 300 people most of whom are from Moletemane, is about to complete payment of the second CEDA loan. Van der Mere said the abattoir is regularly visited by three inspectors from Veterinary Department to ensure the highest standards of hygiene.
Richmark has hired two Muslim priests who perform halaal slaughtering. The company sources day-old chickens from Francistown and South Africa.
Chicken waste products are used to produce biogas
CEDA Agric Manager, Kenneth Makubati, said they have financed crop farms around the country, including small farmers. He said they advise their clients to plough high value crops such as tomatoes.
From Richmark the journalists went to Radi's Farm which was financed under the Young Farmers Fund t the tune of P500 000. The farm is owned by Gaotlhobogwe Radikwata who explained that her project started in 2009, initially in Kgagodi from where she relocated because of water shortages there.
"I used the CEDA funds to buy the net shades and irrigation drapes, among other equipment that I needed to get my project off the ground," she said. "At the moment, the business is going well. This is our first harvest. We are harvesting from 5,000 tomato plants."
Radikwata said she is facing market problems because Selebi-Phikwe is more than 100 kilometres from her farm. She also complained of the border with South Africa remaining open when Batswana farmers, especially in the Tuli Block where there are good soils and water, have the capacity to meet the whole country's needs.
Other projects on the tour were Johannes Schoeman's AR5 Horticultural Farm, Gasebonno Rammai's Boiteko Metal Works and Dineo Kebue's Dinek Investments.