The Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia told Parliament recently that the embattled parastatal, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), has suspended the Direct Cattle Purchase Scheme (DCPS) to allow the organisation to improve its operational costs and structures.
This announcement comes just days after BMC Chief Executive Dr. Akolang Tombale announced that they have cut 153 jobs at its Francistown abattoir, a move designed to slash costs.
When asked by Kgalagadi North MP Itumeleng Moipisi’s about whether the minister was aware that BMC was no longer buying cattle from farmers through the direct cattle purchase scheme, Raalotsia responded saying: “the cost of buying the said cattle is very much higher than the value of the cattle and the scheme proved to be very expensive and unsustainable for BMC.”
The minister also revealed that although the arrangement negatively affected farmers in the country, he highlighted that the Botswana Meat Commission’s field buying prices were published for every farmer to use as a guide when selling their cattle to buyers other than BMC.
“It is noteworthy that cattle buyers, such as cattle speculators, cooperatives and others, may offer competitive prices that in some instances may negatively affect farmers, “he said.
The direct cattle purchase scheme was introduced alongside the delivery assistance scheme and feed-lotting. Under the cattle purchase scheme, live cattle are bought directly from the producers at the production zone. This was started in 2000 in Gantsi and Kgalagadi districts.
Meanwhile BMC says it is hopeful that the increase in prices from P19/kg to P23/kg as well as abolition of the grading system at the Francistown abattoir will entice farmers from the catchment area to sell more cattle to them.
The commission recently cut down its staff by 50 percent, a move meant to slash down operational costs. The headcount cut follows years of failure by the abattoir to meet its slaughter target due to low cattle supply from its catchment area.