The engagement of a management consultancy company to turn Botswana Meat Commission (BMC)’s fortunes is by no means a somersault on the government’s plans for privatisation, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Jimmy Opelo has said.
He said, in fact, that the engagement of experts is aimed at positioning the commission for eventual privatisation.
“We don’t want a situation whereby a company takes over the BMC in its current state only to end up in liquidation,” Opelo told this publication on Friday. He said there are many variables involved in the BMC’s failure to make profit and as such the idea is for the management company to identify them and ensure they are dealt with before undertaking the process of privatisation.
“It is nothing new to Botswana. It has been done with other corporations like the BTC,” he said. He said no company had yet been identified for the job.
Opelo was speaking in an interview following a press conference by the Minister of Agriculture Dr Edwin Dikoloti at the ministry headquarters.
The minister was addressing the media on the status of the BMC.
He said the commission has been experiencing business challenges that have led to the government considering the engagement of a management consultancy company in order to turn it around.
Dikoloti said the company would be tasked with analysing the business model, review operations, and marketing concept of the commission as well as appraising the competency of BMC’s personnel to ensure it becomes profitable and economically viable. “The privatisation of the commission and the process for the removal of beef expert monopoly by BMC continues as planned and already the sector players are showing great interest and desire to see it in place,” the Minister said.
Dikoloti also addressed the media on live cattle exports saying the government introduced the export of live cattle at the height of drastic drought that nearly decimated the cattle industry.
He said it was a pilot initiative meant to assist farmers to sell their cattle to the market in the region to avoid losing them to drought as the BMC was experiencing market related challenges resulting in late payments for farmers.
“This dispensation is ongoing and is scheduled for termination and review by 31st March 2020.”
The Minister said the initiative has helped farmers in various ways especially income earnings from sales due to better prices for live cattle in the region. “The scheme created a market for cattle which could not be absorbed in locally, resulting in improved suppliers’ payments and turnaround time and evading cattle mortalities due to drought,” Dikoloti said.
The Minister also made reference to drought relief initiatives for cattle farmers which include a 35 percent subsidy in livestock feed which commenced in July 2019, and set to continue until end of June 2020. He said a total of 55 577 farmers had already benefited from the subsidy, out of which 27 percent were young farmers. The subsidy was allocated P102 million. The Minister said as at 14 February 2020, a total of just over P90 million had been paid to various private suppliers participating in the subsidy. Dikoloti also spoke about the P3/kg price increase on cold dressed mass as an incentive to increase cattle off-take to the BMC.