With the aim to ensure consistency in supply of beef while at the same time leaving reasonable space for weaner or feedlot production, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has launched new procurement initiatives based on attractive live weight prices both in the field and at the BMC contract feedlots.
On that basis, Dr Motshodi Raborokgwe said, “This will not only add value to the quality and consistency of Botswana’s beef supply but will also ensure farmers get real value for their young weaner and underweight cattle both in Lobatse and Francis town.”
┬áRaborokgwe added that farmers were therefore requested to fully participate in the various schemes on offer to drive maximum value.
The set of newly introduced initiatives entail the buying of cattle directly from farmers by BMC, to reduce the hassle of transport costs, veterinary permits and police clearance. This will be complemented with increased education of farmers on cattle rearing systems, and how to derive added value for their cattle.
┬áFor example, part of this may involve how farmers can take underweight cattle to feedlots to create more value at almost double the price for the producer.
┬áIt is intended that, ┬á“under the campaign, BMC will run a promotion where farmers who sell five or more cattle to the BMC in the field, feedlot or abattoirs, will get entry forms and be liable to win a grand prize of 20 heifers and a bull as well as other consolation prizes,” BMC Procurement Manager, Clive Marshal, said.
As a way of giving impetus to the initiatives, the BMC Chief said when briefing, farmers that cattle should be sold at their prime to get optimum value, and that old ones do not derive much value because they would have passed their prime.
┬á“With our new live weight prices on beasts purchased at the feedlot and in the field, farmers can get much more for their young cattle to invest back into their farming systems,” Raborokgwe added.
┬áThis follows an agreement signed between Government of Botswana and the European Union which was generally viewed as having created an excellent opportunity for the country’s beef industry to develop and expand along a commercially viable path.
┬á“…this has the potential to increase GDP from increase forex earnings, as we can now operate in the EU with the exclusion of tariffs and quota…an excellent opportunity for the nation,” Raborokgwe said at the launch.
┬áHe, however, decried the fact that there is, and will continue to be a problem with the number of saleable cattle available for export once the local market has been satisfied.
It was in light of that “dilemma”, that the Ministry of Agriculture has reportedly identified the weaner/feedlot model as the production system that can redirect the industry toward supplying the 230, 000 head needed to run both abattoirs at capacity and satisfy the increasing demand internationally for┬á the country’s number 2 product.
But, according to the BMC CEO, in order to have a weaner/feedlot model that works, one must create demand for the weaner. Thus, on to that end, he said that the BMC has put a lot of effort into the development of the prime grade, which gave a premium price for a product that obtain a high premium in the EU.
In May this year, De Beers and Debswana’s Diamond Trust, signed a P10 million agreement with the Letloa Trust for the implementation of the Tsodilo Hills UNESCO World Heritage Site Integrated Management Plan.
The project funding, which covers a period of five years, will support the development and management of about 16 000 hectares of land surrounding Tsodilo Hills.
The project will enable the residents of the villages to benefit meaningfully from future developments targeting tourists to the site. This project is managed by Letloa Trust in collaboration with the Botswana National Museum, the communities and local government authorities.
This week, at a ceremony held in Tsodilo, the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, officially launched the start of the project.
Present at the launch were members of the community, government officials, local authorities and the Chief Executive of De Beers Botswana, Sheila Khama, who represented the founders of the Diamond Trust, De Beers and Debswana.
It is envisioned that the project will add to the already extensive tourism offering in the region as well as benefitting the residents of the surrounding communities.
“The Government of Botswana is grateful that the Diamond Trust found it appropriate to fund the Tsodilo Community Initiatives Project. Let me take this opportunity to applaud Debswana and De Beers who realised the importance of synergies and partnerships between the government, communities and the private sector in rural development and conservation,” said minister Mokaila.
The Chief Executive of De Beers Botswana, Sheila Khama, said this is a very exciting project for Debswana and De Beers.
“We are pleased that the money donated by the Diamond Trust will improve the livelihoods of the communities around Tsodilo through job creation and income generating opportunities,” she said.
“It would be good if this project could serve as a model for other communities in Botswana with eco-tourism potential.”