The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has shut down its Maun abattoir as a result of severe water shortages. The abattoir used to get water supplies from sand abstraction pumps on the Thamalakane River, but as a result of the drought which has affected the Southern Africa region, it has since dried up.
BMC Maun area manager Oabona Ramotshwara indicated that the abattoir was operational on Monday but indefinitely closed on Tuesday when its water supplies ran dry. The water shortages have also resulted in disputes between farmers and the abattoir. This comes after officials from the abattoir informed farmers to bring cattle to the Matsaudi collection point only to later tell them to release the cattle as they had no water to slaughter.
However, farmers were not amused with this gesture and insisted that the abattoir should feed the kraaled cattle. At a meeting which was held on Wednesday in order to address the farmers’ concerns the district commissioner, Chabongwa Matseka told farmers that the decision to release the cattle to their respective areas had been reversed. She said BMC would now buy the cattle through live trade and that all cattle would be relocated to the Makalamabedi quarantine where they would be weighed.
However the meeting did not bear any fruits as no concrete agreement was reached. However, the officials who represented the abattoir could not respond to the options tabled by the farmers, but assured the farmers that they would take up their issue with their superiors.
Ramotshwara said several cattle bought from local farmers had died in holding pens since the forced shut-down. Thousands more were being held in quarantine pending slaughter.
Ngamiland famers are reeling with despair as drought is killing their livestock in great numbers on a daily basis while they helplessly watch. Research shows that rainfall amounts have been dwindling over the years. In November 2010, Mosisedi enjoyed 105mm of rain, which fell to 48mm in November 2014. Rainfall amounts fell from 130mm in January 2010 to 5mm in January 2015. 63mm of rain fell in February 2010 compared to 5mm in February 2015.
A number of farmers belonging to Mosisedi Farmers Association were also not spared by the drought. The farmers’ operations were bankrolled by NDB, which is hardly surprising since agriculture is at the core of the bank’s business operations.