In a bid to give a lifeline to local farmers following the declaration of 2013 as a drought year, Botswana government has made a decision to allow the export of live cattle.
The Principal Public Relations Officer, Geoffrey Pheko, told The Telegraph that this arrangement is allowed for cattle of 30 months and above. He added that farmers wishing to sell their cattle should make private arrangements, subject to their meeting the necessary procedures and veterinary requirements by both Botswana and the recipient countries.
“Unfortunately, this does not cover cattle in FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease) affected areas such as Ngamiland and some parts of the North East,” he said.
The move is expected to please many farmers who have been arguing against the policy which does not allow them to export their live cattle to countries like South Africa, which is reported to pay far more than what the beef monopoly, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) pays to the farmers.
On the other hand, it is also expected to harm BMC, which is currently reeling in financial problems alleged to have been caused by de-listing of Botswana from exporting beef to the lucrative European Union (EU) market.
BMC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale, said that they had been briefed about the decision which he said they fully support because of the drought situation currently affecting the country.
“We are facing drought, so we think it is better that farmers be allowed to sell their cattle outside the country rather than to have them perish from drought,” he said.
Tombale said that he does not think that the decision will affect them adversely though he accepted that there has been no assessment of that yet.