Monday, August 15, 2022

BMC backs gov’t for Maun abattoir re-opening

Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) this week backed the government over next month’s long awaited re-opening of the Maun abattoir.

Last week, Oreeditse Molebatsi, the junior minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, was at pains to convince parliament that the farmers will make a living by slaughtering cattle from the facilities.
Dr Motshudi Raborokgwe, the BMC Chief Executive, told Sunday Standard that the past postponements were a result of some unexpected problems that they encountered during the process.

These problems included delays in water connections to the plant and getting equipment delivered on time because of transporters strike in South Africa.

These delays, he explained had caused setbacks in the finishing of refurbishments of the abattoir.
BMC is confident it will start slaughtering 10 -15 cattle at the beginning of August and then go for 150/day towards the end the month.

Raborokgwe said initially the government parastatal had planned to start slaughtering in July and had been given permission to do so by the Department of Veterinary Services, but delayed that in order to take care of issues that could compromise quality and safety of production.
These issues were water chlorinification, provision of enough water for sterilisation and a guarantee that there is water for the refrigeration plant.

On marketing of the beef, he said that they have already opened negotiations with butcheries that will form part of their main market, but that they are also working to upgrade the cannery section and that tenders for the job has already been advertised.

Still with this assurance, Okavango and Ngamiland farmers are still doubtful.
“We┬áhave heard such lies in the past; this time I think we will┬áadopt a wait and see position after what has happened to us in the past,” said┬á one farmer.

According to him, the BMC authorities have told them about the abattoir opening since the beginning of this year and each time their hopes were raised only to be later told a different story and that this time around he is first going to wait and see if indeed the abattoir opens before he can start celebrating.

Another farmer Kago Pilate said that he was┬á still┬á annoyed and angry that they have been told a lot┬á of ┬á“lies” in the past┬á about┬á the opening of the abattoir that┬á he still doubts that┬á it will open on the stated time at all or it was just another “lie” as had happened in the past.
“I will wait for the abattoir to open before I can make a comment on that┬á because I no longer┬á trust┬á the┬á people involved in this matter because of their past record,” he said.

Member of Parliment for Maun West, Tawana Moremi, just expressed hope that this time around the abattoir will start function as its CEO had said it will.

“I just hope this time around the abattoir┬á will start operating so that┬á we could realise┬á the┬á economic┬á benefits of rearing cattle as other Batswana are doing around the country,” he said.
The Chairman of Haina Veld Farmers Association, Phillip Wright, was not available to comment on the issue. Maun abattoir was first closed in the middle of the 90s after the outbreak of lung disease in the Okavango and Ngamiland.

The out break saw an estimated cattle population of 300,000 slaughtered to contain the disease.
Afterwards, the government was reluctant to reopen it on grounds  that there was no  assurance that  it will be profitable  as even before the out break of the disease it was not profitable.

But  farmers in the two areas  as well as politicians  complained that  they were being neglected  by the failure to provide them with an abattoir  to sell their cattle at an abattoir  and in the end  the government  accepted the plea and promised the farmers it will reopen it at the cost of millions of pula for refurbishment amongst other things.  

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