Saturday, October 31, 2020

BAMB hatches plan to meet surging chicken demand

The Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) says it has plans underway to set up a chicken breeding hatchery to meet the ever-surging local demand. 

The Boards’ chief executive officer (CEO) Leonard Morakaladi last week said the idea is not to “crowd the private sector” but to close an existing gap. 

The CEO said BAMB, which currently does not rely on government subsidies but is self-sustainable, deserves to be turned around to make it relevant. Such, in his words, would be an enabler for indigenous farmers to become future shareholders. 

Currently, Botswana is self-sufficient in both table eggs and chicken meat contributing not only to food security but also to rural employment. 

However, the country imports virtually all pullets which are young layers from neighbouring countries, notably South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

The Sunday Standard investigations have discovered that there are two hatcheries in Botswana which can produce about 95 percent of the country’s day-old broiler chick (DOC) requirements, indicating that 5 percent of the DOCs are still imported. 

Currently, the food import bill sits at P7.6 billion. As of April 2020, the local production on chicken meat and table egg stood at 101 percent and 93 percent respectively.

To promote local production, Botswana uses the licensing and restrictions on the imports of some agricultural products including beef, fish produce, milk, eggs, chicken and some horticultural products.  The objective of these restrictions is to protect domestic suppliers from competition.  

Commercial poultry production in Botswana has developed rapidly during the past fourty years. Chickens have become one of the greatest importance to the country’s agricultural economy. As a result, the industry contributes a significant portion of the country’s supply of animal protein. 

Generally, the poultry industry in Botswana is performing well despite a myriad of challenges. 

These challenges, it is argued, comprise amongst many others, inadequacy of breeding stock, thus leading to imports of birds and hatching eggs. 

It is further argued that Halaal requirements by the majority of retailers denies small-scale producers’ access to the market as they do not have money to pay Muslim slaughters.

Delayed allocation of land for poultry businesses by Land Boards, lack of slaughtering facilities for small-scale poultry producers, lack of serviced land and unorganized marketing are some of the challenges.

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