Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is on the brink of completing two high profile deals to supply China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with beef.
BMC Corporate Manager Brian Dioka told this publication that they are at the tail end of signing a trade deal with China which will see the corporation now supplying the Chinese country with beef.
Currently Botswana has gained access to Europe (rest of EU, Norway and United Kingdom) Africa, some parts of Middle East and North Asia (MENA countries).
Dioka also indicated that they have currently undertaken a trip to Dubai in order to market the country’s beef adding that they have made a significant progress so far.
He said the approach to find new buyers is in line with their renewed corporate strategy in which they identified selling as one of the areas that need urgent improvement.
“We developed a corporate strategy called meriting at the end of last year and that was solely because for quite a number of years we have been dependent on the European Union market and as global trade changes and as more markets become lucrative and premium, we felt that we should come here as the BMC to enliven and implement our strategic objective to increase access to premium markets.”
Dioka also said they are also engaging with UAE governments to score a deal, a move that will further revive the corporate’s fortunes.
“The UAE is one of the four trade platforms that we are interested in, in the short to medium term because we also have the United States through the AGOWA agreement and the Africa free trade agreement because there are those within Africa that are becoming Premium,” said Dioka.
He said the trip will give the country an opportunity to also give other countries an opportunity to know about the country’s beef.
“The biggest reason we are here is to ensure that the Botswana beef access the UAE markets because we have been meeting with different governments to understand their trading protocols,”
“We are also meeting potential customers, retail outlets and those that can have space to accommodate our beef so that we understand the distribution logistics,” added Dioka.
He further said the second part of their engagement is to identify partnerships that can work for the BMC.
Dioka also highlighted that the engagement has offered them an opportunity to scan the consumption of beef in terms of how the UAE market wants the product packaged.
“We are also here to study the consumption patterns, trends and also to understand how to brand our product so that it fetches better margins or better prices in the UAE,”
“We also wanted to understand the technologies being used that can make BMC a relevant business in the world,” stated Dioka.
Government continues to be under pressure to privatize the parastatal as it relied on subventions.
As a turnaround strategy, government in 2018 converted BMC to a limited liability company with the focus to eventually commercialize and achieve operational efficiencies with an appropriate mix of ownership between farmer’s legal entities and government.
Last year, government promised that it will open up its beef industry to allow farmers to export their meat directly.
The state-owned BMC is currently the sole entity licensed to export beef, with farmers complaining they are forced to sell to the loss-making organization for low prices and that payment often comes late.