The Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaff, says that he has no personal interest whatsoever in the planned abattoir in Gantsi.
“I am a farmer, yes, but I have no personal interest in the abattoir,” he said.
De Graaff confirmed that some Gantsi farmers, Gantsi District Council and foreign farmers who wanted to partner with locals have approached the Ministry on the issue but that the Ministry had told them to go and make detailed proposals on the matter.
He said that the proposal will then be closely studied by both his Ministry and the Botswana Meat Commission to see how it will affect the beef market in the country and it will only be after that when the Ministry will respond.
Asked if he thinks that it could affect the Lobatse BMC, De Graaff said. “That will only be known after the proposals have been studied.”
This development follows after reports that some farmers in Gantsi District with foreign connections wanted to buy the loss-making BMC and turn it around to be a profit-making business.
On the other hand, some observers say that if that could be allowed, this will right away close Lobatse BMC as most of the cattle slaughtered at it are from Gantsi region farms.
“The day that happens, Lobatse BMC will have to close its doors as the Gantsi region farms are its back bone. I cannot see it operating for a day without them,” said a farmer from the region who requested anonymity.
He said that besides the numbers of cattle that they provide to the BMC, they also provide it with high quality cattle as they are skilled farmers .
It is not yet known how Gantsi District got involved in the issue. Its Council Secretary was reported to be away on leave.
BMC has been going over turbulent times recently leading to, amongst other things, Parliament passing a motion tabled by Kanye North Member of Parliament Kenntse Rammidi asking for a commission of inquiry into BMC operations and why it has turned into a loss-making entity, which has been depending on government bail outs. Before then, the government had announced a task force to look into the matter but it was argued in some quarters that a task force was not an appropriate body to address the problem which affects the lives of a majority of Batswana.