Saturday, May 8, 2021

Ngami farmers blame BMC for their failure to repay CEDA loans

Ngamiland farmers have hit back at accusations that they are failing to pay back the money they borrowed from CEDA under the Foot and Mouth Relief Fund, saying the blame should be on the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC)  which is failing to absorb their cattle for slaughter to enable them to pay back.

This came to light at a recent briefing by CEDA officials to former assistant minister of Finance, Vincent Seretse.

The minister was told that only about P1 million of the P500 million that the agency lent to the farmers has so far been paid back.

A Haina Veldt farmer, Kgosi Labanye Meno, said that he found it very disturbing that they are now being blamed for failure to pay when the BMC, which is supposed to slaughter the cattle to enable them to pay, is not doing its duty.

“I have been to the abattoir several times trying to book for my cattle to be slaughtered but I have not been successful┬áand I am scared because┬á it is possible that by the time they want┬á me to slaughter┬á them, they might have died from disease or gone astray and will not be able to pay back.

CEDA must┬átalk to┬áBMC about this┬áand stop blaming us,” he said.

Another Ngamiland farmer, Ditiro Pogiso, concurred with Meno and said he finds it very disturbing that the issue of failure to pay CEDA by Ngamiland farmers can even crop up in the mouths of its employees when they are aware of the reason why they are not able to pay back what they owe.

“ I did not expect to hear this from them, not at all because they are aware that the┬á problem we are facing is that┬áthe abattoir where we were intending to sell our cattle to pay back┬á BMC┬á is the one failing in its duties of┬á slaughtering cattle so that we can be able to pay CEDA back,” said Pogiso.

Othusitse Gagente also concurred with Meno and Pogiso, saying that it was not their problem that they have not yet paid CEDA but that of BMC. 

Maun BMC branch has never operated to its capacity of 150 cattle per day since it started operating.
Initially, the problems were said to be related to the fact that  the plant  was being  refurbished, which  means that  some technical problems had to be sorted out  as it  was operating, which resulted in delays  in slaughtering cattle.

After some months, that problem was resolved and another problem of lack of adequate water at the plant cropped up as the Water Affairs Department in Maun said it could only afford to supply them with what they were already supplying due to supply constraints.

As a solution to the problem, BMC decided to set its own plant to draw water from Thamalakane River. Currently the plant is still slaughtering below its capacity on grounds of lack of market for the beef.

The failure  to slaughter to the capacity of the abattoir recently  raised  complaints of corruption on the committee, which has been set up to ensure  that  there is fairness in selection of cattle for slaughtering  in the abattoir.

BMC Public Relations Officer, Tiro Kganela, said that there was not much they could do as they have been stopped from slaughtering by the European Union. He could not say when exactly they will start slaughtering again.

Whilst waiting for the ban to be lifted, he said that they are processing the meat they already have in their refrigerators into boneless meat, beef stew and other products to be sold in the Ngamiland.

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