The Botswana Meat Commission is expected to lose millions of Pula in revenues if Botswana beef is not admitted to the lucrative European Union (EU) market in the New Year.
BMC Chief Executive, Dr David Falepau, told Sunday Standard they predict that if the country is not readmitted in 2012, they may forgo about P90 m in gross revenue and that this was likely to get worse if they do not get EU re-listing by February 2012.
Botswana was delisted after failure to comply with EU regulations concerning cattle identifications.
Though admitting that the parastatal has been hard hit by the delisting, Falepau said that this and other adverse events on beef market that occurred in 2011 has not yet impacted BMC cattle prices as BMC has not passed back any losses from 2011 to farmers by reducing cattle prices.
“BMC has kept paying RSA Red Meat Abattoir Association prices despite all these disruptions to our markets and cattle supply and that the cattle price actually increased week on week throughout 2011,” he said.
He said this has affected BMC’s financial position badly and that, while confident that with a good year in 2012 they can recover, managing cash flow currently is extremely difficult.
On when he expects the country to be able to sell to the EU, Dr Falepau said that, “I have been communicating with my colleagues in the EU and have it on good advice that the EU Commission are just waiting on the Department of Veterinary Services to provide them with an account of where they are up to with their compliance systems and a request to re-list our establishments.”
He further said that “the EU is being very cooperative, we’ve had strong support from all their representatives in Botswana and they have continuously offered us assistance”.
The BMC CEO also said that he has had an international livestock traceability and food safety systems expert flown into Botswana to review BMCs systems and he rated it ‘world’s best practice’.
Falepau said the EU is an extremely important market to Botswana as almost no-one else in the world is prepared to pay what the EU consumers do for the beef they eat.
“Batswana should be able to enjoy the same prices farmers in other countries receive, if we produce the same standard of cattle and have world best practice food safety and livestock traceability systems,” he said.
Even so, for those farmers who do not want to produce cattle to EU standards, he said BMC is opening other markets. But that those markets do not pay as well as the EU. Finally, he warned that “we may not be able to continue paying the same prices we are currently doing for all of the classes of cattle we purchase.”