The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) on Friday confirmed that the BMC Lobatse plant has been closed in compliance with the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and government’s advice.
BMC Head of Public Relations Brian Dioka said the BMC Lobatse plant was also closed to safe-guard its reputation as a regional quality beef-exporter, since it is the only British Retail Consortium (BRC) A-graded facility in Africa exporting to the lucrative European Market.
In an interview with Sunday Standard on Friday, Dioka said its beef stock from the Lobatse plant dating April 11th going backwards has been permitted for exportation indefinitely. He also added that the latest developments subsequent to the imposition of the movement ban in Zone 11, the slaughter of livestock for social consumption is now allowed.
“Cooked meats, processed meats and matured deboned beef are allowed into, out of and within zone 11. Other movement’s restrictions remain in force,” said Dioka.
He also confirmed that the stock-bound for the EU market at Lobatse warehouse distribution center in Cape Town, RSA is not affected by the current restrictions on Zone 11 Botswana. He explained that the Cape Town facility is receiving both stock from BMC Francistown and Lobatse Plants destined for other Markets and non-EU Markets.
In what could turn out to be a national crisis, the Ministry of Agriculture on April 12th banned the slaughter of animals for consumption for all occasions, following the killing of a buffalo in Kanye by wildlife and police officials. Government said the decision was taken to allow officials to carry out investigations, on whether the African bull buffalo which is a carrier of FMD virus, had traces of Foot and Mouth Disease.
“BMC has also responded by suspending sale or supply of cattle into feedlots within the disputed zone (11), but also into the Lobatse plant. This means we have currently suspended all cattle purchase activities in Lobatse,” he said.
Dioka further said the beef or cattle movement restrictions only in Zone 11 are indefinite. He added that the closure of the BMC Lobatse-Production Line will last as long as beef trade restrictions are imposed on zone 11 as of Tuesday April 12th 2016.
He is of the view that BMC is aware of the inconveniences caused by this situation and urged restraint until government and allied stakeholders conclude investigations on the buffalo incursions in Zone 11.
“We also sponsor the idea that all information related to this matter ought to be advanced immediately to the police, wildlife personnel or any other government security officials,” he said.
Dioka stated that BMC has extended its trading to include weekends to allow its customers to buy for their businesses and own consumption.