The Government of Botswana has admitted that it is running against time to come up with a suitable business model in the operation of the highly anticipated Tsabong multi-species abattoir which is expected to be opened in September this year.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Entrepreneurship, Mbakisi Morapedi, told Sunday Standard that government recently commenced consultative engagements with stakeholders to decide on whether the abattoir should be run by the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) or a private investor.
“You will recall that the construction of the abattoir was spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture and the next stage is now to identify a model of operation and that is where the Ministry of Entrepreneurship comes in. We went over to Tsabong to appreciate the abattoir and to introduce some of the stakeholders who will be equally important to this project,” he said.
Morapedi said no proposals have been sent out yet to determine the model of operation to be adopted.
“We are exploring all available options with other stakeholders and that is why even today we still believe that we are lacking other stakeholders to be part of this discussion,” stated Morapedi.
He highlighted that once they have engaged all stakeholders they will then engage cabinet for final approval adding that their wish is to conclude all due processes before the opening of the abattoir.
“We have already seen the pros and cons in the use of BMC and I want to believe that the discussions will be guided by this case study,” added Morapedi.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Nancy Chengeta has highlighted that despite persisting interest from UAE to import Botswana’s small stock products, there is a lot that still needs to be done in order to satisfy the highly demanding market.
Chengeta stated that currently the goat population stands at 1.4 million while that of sheep stands at 240 000.
She added that the abattoir has a slaughter capacity of 300 small stock per day.
“The UAE market has been on the cards for a very long time and it is still on the cards but the unfortunate thing is that our small stock population is still low and it cannot satisfy the UAE demands. That is why we are currently coming up with strategies in which we can encourage Batswana to increase their small stock,” she said.
She said it is not surprising to be drawing a lot of interest from many countries seeking to import Botswana’s small stock products adding that Botswana’s farming style remains unique and further to that, the product is organic.
Chengeta highlighted that the main strategy is the small stock cluster initiative which has since been completed.
The P161.7 million multi-species abattoir is strategically placed to take advantage of the high small stock population in the Kgalagadi area. President Mokgweetsi Masisi previously revealed that Botswana has identified lucrative markets in the Middle East for the export of mutton, lamb, and chevon and game meat.
However, the international growth of the beef industry has not matched that of small livestock, such as goats and sheep, although their domestic animals are abundantly available in the country.
Duty-free market quotas for goats and sheep have already been secured in Norway and Saudi Arabia.
Small-stock production has been identified by the government as one of the priority areas in Kgalagadi South District that can contribute to agricultural growth and improve national food security. On this basis, a 10,300 hectares small-stock project was established in Middlepits (Lobu Farm) to boost the competitiveness of the small-stock industry. Furthermore, in order to gain access to the lucrative domestic and export markets, the government determined that an abattoir was required, necessitating farmer profiling.
Farmers were profiled by documenting their existing production systems, herd composition, production parameters, and management practices. These dictate the ability to penetrate various existing and potential markets, identify gaps in those markets to guide interventions, and determine investment levels as well as farm-level returns. Small-stock farming is the primary enterprise in Kgalagadi South mainly because of its adaptability. The Ministry of Entrepreneurship tasked with the responsibility of business development, will ensure commercial operation of the abattoir once completed. It is against this background that in the past week, stakeholders tasked with facilitating the growth and commercialization of the small stock sector converged in Kgalagadi to map the way forward regarding Lobu Farm.