The issue of Botswana’s self sustenance in as far as food security is concerned comes with a lot of challenges. Yet Botswana strives through different government organs to ensure results are ultimately borne.
Tackling food insecurity coupled with the adaptation to climate change impacts on Agriculture and its produce necessitates provision for stock feeds. Costs, due to limited locally produced stuff extensively hamper progress.
For instance, Botswana Meat Commission’s public relations office has revealed that Feedlotting needs a lot of capital investments and is a highly technical venture.
Responding to questions posed by Sunday Standard in connection with their Feedlot in Mmamashia, less than 10 kilometres, north of the capital Gaborone, Portia Motlhabane explained that most of the feed components are imported and do not come cheap.
The logistics of the delivery of feeds, she said sometimes take a long time. The feed ingredients: chop, wheat bran, molasses, premix and wheat straw are sourced locally and from South Africa and Zambia. The feeds fed according to stages are: beef starter for 14 days; beef grower for 28 days; then beef finisher until they are market ready.
The feedlot is feeding 3 188 animals, which are ready for market within an average of 90 days.
Another challenge Motlhabane pointed out is availability of feeder animals or weaners. She said: “Farmer’s supply of weaners is seasonal and this affects the stocking of the feedlot. Botswana has a low off take of cattle. It currently stands at 10 percent and this situation negatively affects stocking of the feedlots.”
Furthermore, she said, there is issue of traceability where animals which do not have a form of identification are not compliant to be sold.
A researcher at Agriculture Research, Professor Madibela, once highlighted during a workshop hosted by the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) that food security requires indigenous knowledge; food production, biodiversity climate change and medicine as well as microbiology of rumen meant to improve digestion of low quality forages. There also is need for traditional plants which will help reduce methane yield in ruminants.