The existence of the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) as a state monopoly constrains investment, innovation and competition in the beef sector, says the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In their latest report on the economic outlook of Botswana, AFDB and UNDP state that the country’s beef sector requires serious reform to improve its performance. Amongst the suggested reforms is ending of BMC’s sole responsibility of marketing beef outside the country which is said to be constraining private investment.
“Terminating the BMC monopoly may lead to the unearthing of alternative markets, whilst more effective management of the threat of foot and mouth disease will ensure access to the EU market is sustained. The performance of the sector could also be enhanced by improvements in the quality of the national herd and management skills, especially in communal areas,” the report read in part.
In a previous interview, Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Meat Commission, Dr Akolang Tombale, told this publication that though he is not against calls to end BMC monopoly, there is need to approach the liberation of the beef industry with caution.
Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference at the BMC premises early last year, Tombale warned that communal farmers should not be left in the lurch when the beef industry is liberalised or when there are new entrants in the market. ??“I don’t have a problem with liberalisation of the beef industry, but we should ensure that there are controls in place,” he said. ??Agriculture Minister, Christian De Graaf, tabled a BMC Amendment Bill in 2012, seeking to liberalize the beef industry. But his attempts were rejected by Members of Parliament, who said the move would kill the ailing industry. Tombale also said regulations must be in place before the BMC monopoly is ended.