The Botswana Meat Commission has admitted that its Francistown subsidiary is facing operational problems. Sources within the meat industry indicated this week that the Francistown abattoir is facing issues related to cattle supply from catchment areas.
In a bid to address the matter, BMC Chief Executive Dr Akolang Tombale is set to address a farmers’ pitso in Francistown this coming week. Dr Tombale will also address amongst other issues related to operational concerns of the Francistown office. Through the said meeting, BMC intends to consult with cattle producers to propose remedial and implementable interventions to improve cattle supply to the Francistown abattoir.
Established in 1989, the Francistown abattoir has a slaughter capacity of 400 cattle per day, but has apparently failed to meet its target of slaughtering 88,000 cattle per year since its inception. A record slaughter was only achieved in 2010 when the abattoir slaughtered about 55,000 cattle. Since then, the abattoir has been struggling with annual slaughter, at times going as low as 10,000 or less.
BMC Public Relations Officer Brian Dioka said in an interview that the failure was caused by amongst other things out breaks of foot and mouth disease in some catchment areas as well as evasive cattle supply in areas bordering the plant. Dioka said Monday that there has also been a review of cattle supplies compliance requirements and subsequent delisting of the Francistown abattoir from the European Union market in 2010.
Francistown BMC is currently slaughtering for non EU markets after it was delisted. Two months ago, the Francistown abattoir was planning to slaughter cattle from Ngamiland to augment the dwindling number of cattle it slaughters, but the plan was dealt a heavy blow when FMD broke out in Haina Veldt just days before the first load of cattle was delivered to the abattoir.
However, Dioka said BMC’s other abattoirs in Maun and Lobatse are doing well, as the Francistown abattoir was the only concern.
“This is why we are going to hold the pitso in Francistown. We want to discuss the issue with farmers and encourage them to sell their cattle to us,” he said.