Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Ngamiland farmers boycott BMC over low purchase prices?

MAUN – The Plant manager at Botswana Meat Commission (BMC)’s Maun abattoir Oabona Ramotshwara says they are already feeling the brunt of what appears like a “boycott” by some farmer associations in the region.

It is said that after a futile attempt by the farmers to convince BMC to allow them to negotiate purchase prices, the farmer associations has since vowed not to sell their cattle to the abattoir.

The Ngamiland farmers are said to have decried that the P8/kg purchase price for light weight cattle imposed by the BMC was way too little and called for an increase.

The farmers demanded that purchase prices at the abattoir should at least match those of the Francistown and Lobatse abattoirs which currently sell at P23/kg and P33kg respectively.

Sunday Standard has been informed that at their last meeting, held in January 2018, the farmers collectively agreed that should their pleas not be considered, they will be left with no option but to keep their cattle instead.

This past Thursday, while briefing the Maun Administrative Authority sub council, Ramotshwara said BMC is yet to establish if farmers are deliberately not bringing their cattle for slaughter because of the issue at hand or if it is because of the bad roads resulting from recent heavy rains.

As it stands now, he said the P8/kg purchase price is not implemented as they are still buying for P19.50/kg,

He noted that in 2017 they had targeted a kill of 29 000 cattle, but only managed to slaughter about 18 000 cattle as farmers were not forthcoming. “This year our target stands at 24 000, and we are hopeful that we will, through comprehensive talks with farmers be able to reach our intended target. As I speak, we have already killed a total of 2500 cattle since January to February this year, and we can only wish for the number to increase”, he said.

As if not enough he said Maun BMC is already running at extra losses, now that they export meat to the Democratic Republic of Congo alone, and not Kuwait, Mozambique and Vietnam as it has always been the case. He noted that the re-occurrence of Foot and Mouth Disease in the region has had a very negative impact on export markets as it means they always have to start from scratch to secure markets and convince their clients that their meat is of good quality despite coming from FMD infested areas. However he said he was happy that in spite of the many hardships which they have come across since the last reported case of FMD in September the previous year, they have never laid down staff, but instead sent some of them to run just random errands. He pleaded with councilors to help them convince farmers to reconsider and come forward with their cattle, failure at the abattoir might encounter even more difficulties, going forward.

Meanwhile councillors expressed worry about the many changes and developments made by the BMC management and the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) without prior consultation with farmers and the district leadership. They said they are equally not impressed by the continued lack of communication and suggested that for purposes of damage control, the BMC management and its stakeholders should embark on a tour of the district and engage with farmers and discuss a way forward as they are currently very much aggrieved, also taking into consideration that they sometimes go for months without any payments made.

Regarding the issue of late payments, Ramotshwara as much as he knows, they do not owe any farmer as they always make it a point that they pay within a period of fourteen days from date of purchase.

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