The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has taken a decision to shut down its Maun abattoir in a bid to improve efficiency. BMC Public Relations Officer, Brian Dioka said Monday that the abattoir will close down its operations for a period of more than a month in order to put in place measures that will lead to improved efficiency.
“Yes it’s true that we will close the abattoir until mid August as we want to improve efficiency at the abattoir,” he said.
During closure, BMC will make minor renovations that will enable the abattoir to slaughter around 120 cattle a day from the current 90- 100 cattle a day. Dioka admitted that BMC has received numerous complaints from Ngamiland farmers that the Maun abattoir has limited capacity to slaughter large numbers of cattle, which has resulted in some of them not selling their cattle for many years even in areas that are not affected by foot and mouth.
“We are aware of such complaints and are working on them. For example we are looking for new markets that will lead to an increase in the number of cattle we slaughter. But this is not in any way helped by farmers’ failure to get their cattle vaccinated in order to fight the outbreak of foot and mouth in the district,” he said.
He further said cooperation between farmers and veterinary officers can help in ensuring that diseases are kept at bay so that the beef industry in Ngamiland district runs smoothly.
“All stake holders need each other for the industry to run smoothly,” he said.
The closure of the Maun abattoir comes shortly after the BMC has admitted that it is facing cash flow problems. Because of its precarious financial position, the BMC reportedly owes farmers an undisclosed amount of money, a result of its ‘costly’ short term financing model which is worsened by delayed sales proceeds. In April, the then Acting Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia told Parliament that the Commission is facing cash follow challenges, but disputed that BMC is insolvent. Chief Executive Officer Akolang Tombale also explained then that delayed payments to farmers were caused by a serious cash flow problem at BMC.