Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Gov’t seeks to tighten pork imports amid growing local production 

The Government has hinted at the possibility of introducing a stiff instrument to protect the country’s growing pig farming industry against imports.

Chief scientific officer responsible for non-ruminants at the Ministry of Agriculture Bueno Mokhutshwane said pork production in the last financial year stood at 989.8 tons of pork against national demand of 1500 tons, an indication of significant growth.

“We are trying to monitor and control importation by saying that one can only import when local producers are not able to supply pork products and mind you we have a committee which sits 3 times a month,” added Mokhutshwane.

He highlighted that they are only dishing out import permits when government has satisfied itself that indeed there is no local production.

“Predominantly pig farming is done on a small scale and in the last financial year we had 271 projects around the country,” said Mokhutshwane.

He said even though pig production still remains one of the most challenged sectors in the country, there is will from farmers to produce enough to supply different local markets.

“There are a number of challenges which continue to stifle farmers from producing on a large scale. Farmers also have a challenge because currently they have a shortage of nuclear stock where they can source good quality animals for breeding purposes and we have been relying on importing all along from neighboring countries,” he said.

The Chief Scientific officer stated that farmers are also battling the ever increasing prices for feeds and the low entrepreneurial skills in farmers.

Mokhutshwane said there is an opportunity for more people to venture into the industry given the appetite by government to advance local produce.

He further said there is need for farmers to do clusters in order to improve the quality of produce.

“Government will continue to review some of the hindrances in the growth of pig farming so that in the near future we have a dominant industry which by extension can compete for foreign markets. There is a strong belief that this sector can grow exponentially as we have seen other livestock production showing massive growth,” added Mokhutshwane.

Mokhutshwane stated that the return on investment in pig farming is promising and should be able to motivate farmers to take it seriously.

Government insufficient promotion of the pig industry has also contributed to the poor performance of pork production.

The agricultural ministry’s veterinary services department has put pig production on the lowest rung, around 5.8%, compared to the other livestock like cattle and chicken. Statistics available show that only five people out of 100 readily access and eat pork in the county compared to 80 out of 100 for beef and 70 out 100 for poultry products.

Other economic analysts have blamed the low pig and pork production on government bias in favour of the cattle industry. For many years more support and emphasis has been put on the cattle and poultry sectors than pigs. The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) although established to buy, process and sell meat products in the country and outside has, since its inception in the 1960s, only concentrated on beef.

In 2021, production of pig meat for Botswana was 225 thousand tonnes. Though Botswana production of pig meat fluctuated substantially in recent years, it tended to decrease through 1972 – 2021 period ending at 225 thousand tonnes in 2021.

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