Thursday, February 9, 2023

Botswana could lose on the UAE small livestock market because…

Plans to start exporting small livestock to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are likely to suffer a blow following revelations that the country’s stock of small livestock is small.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Nancy Chengeta told Sunday Standard that despite persisting interest from UAE to import Botswana’s small stock products, there is a lot that still needs to be done in order to satisfy the highly demanding market.

Chengeta stated that currently the goat population stands at 1.4 million while that of sheep stands at 240 000.

She stated that even though the much anticipated Tsabong multi species abattoir is progressing well and expected to be commissioned next year in July, there is need to devise strategies which can increase the small stock herd.

She added that the abattoir has a slaughter capacity of 300 small stock per day.

“The UAE market has been on the card for a very long time and it is still on the cards but the unfortunate thing is that our small stock population is still low and it cannot satisfy the UAE demands and that is why we are currently coming up with strategies in which we can encourage Batswana to increase their small stock,” she said.

Chengeta also said despite lack of capacity to supply the UAE market there is however a growing interest locally for small stock demand.

“Our small stock numbers are low and one can wonder how our current numbers can fill up a single container, so clearly there is a lot that can be done in order to boost our small stock herd,” said Chengeta.

She said it is not surprising to be drawing a lot of interest from many countries seeking to import Botswana’s small stock products adding that Botswana’s farming style remains unique and further to that, the product is organic.

Chengeta highlighted that the main strategy is the small stock cluster initiative which has since been completed through the assistance international fund for Agricultural development which focuses on the clustering model and develop value chain around small stock.

“On top of this, like we have been saying that we are trying to improve our artificial insemination facilities in Ramatlabama in order to increase our cattle population, this is also going to benefit small stock because these facilities will surely bring about boost to our farming sector,” said Chengeta.

The P161.7 million multi-species abattoir is strategically placed to take advantage of the high small stock population in the Kgalagadi area. President Mokgweetsi Masisi has previously revealed that Botswana has identified lucrative markets in the Middle East for the export of mutton, lamb, and chevon and game meat.

Botswana is famous globally for its beef exports due to favourable climate conditions to rear cattle.

However, the international growth of the beef industry has not matched that of small livestock, such as goats and sheep, although their domestic animals are abundantly available in the country.

Duty-free market quotas for the goats and sheep have already been secured in Norway and Saudi Arabia.

However, according to Morapedi, export markets for the once untapped small livestock is opening up. According to Statistics Botswana, the current national population of sheep and goats is only 264 962 and 1 605 642 respectively – both cases, well below peak historical herd sizes. A recent study on the Botswana small stock sector carried out by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has revealed that productivity in the sector is low.

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