Cash-strapped Botswana Meat Commission has been losing money to a practice called “rendering”, through which whole consignments of healthy animals are condemned.
Sunday Standard sources have identified four ways this rendering occurs. Early this year, the Department of Livestock Procurement introduced a system through which whole consignments of healthy animals were condemned and sent to the rendering plant because their actual number exceeded that written on the removal permit – in some cases with just one animal.
Although this practice has been discontinued, this rendering method is said to have been very costly. One example given is what happened on February 20 when 42 healthy animals were condemned and sent to the rendering plant.
In some instances, when supervision has been lax, cattle have been slaughtered before veterinarians from the Department of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture could conduct what is technically called an ‘ante-mortem’ inspection (opposite of ‘post-mortem’ inspection) on them.
Even when it turns out that the animals were perfectly healthy, they are still condemned because laid down procedure was not followed. The veterinarians also inspect liarage facilities in which the animals are kept and when they make a determination that these facilities are not clean enough, the cattle kept in them are marked down and subsequently rendered.
Animals injured during offloading are also sent to the rendering plant when, according to the BMC insider, there is the option of selling their meat to the local market.
Says the source: “We are told that this is in line with European Union requirements but the question is: why throw away so many animals when we are still delisted from the EU market? I think these procedures are going to throw BMC into financial chaos.”
BMC has currently been de-listed from the EU over issues of compliance, literally losing hundreds of millions of pula and is presently in the throes of fine-tuning up its standards in order to re-list. The Commission itself was not willing to respond to questions about the said rendering practices. Sunday Standard had sought confirmation from it about the existence of these practices, the discontinuance of the figure-mismatch practice and reasons thereof as well as the total value of cattle that were rendered that way and whether cattle owners are paid when their cattle are rendered.
These questions were part of a set that related to some contentious human resources issues. The catch-all response from BMC’s spokesman, Tiro Kganela, did not specifically address the rendering practices but in reference to the HR questions, merely said that it was BMC policy not to discuss “human capital” issues with external stakeholders. With regard to payment of farmers however, Sunday Standard learns that whatever the reasons for having their cattle rendered, farmers get paid.
Carcass rendering plants receive dead animals from feedlots and the rendering process involves recycling carcasses into inedible raw animal material which is then bought by manufacturers and converted into consumer products.
In the rendering plant, the carcass is cut, then crushed into small pieces and cooked at high temperatures until the meat melts away from the bones. The cooked meat and bone is then pressed into blocks for processing into feed.