The Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Oreeditse Molebatsi, says that he is confident that Botswana will soon start selling beef to the European Union (EU) again.
Speaking in an interview with The Telegraph recently, Molebatsi said that his Ministry is working closely with the Botswana Meat Commission to make sure that they start selling to the lucrative EU market.
“I am confident that we will soon start selling to the EU again .My Ministry and BMC are working around the clock to make sure of that,” he said.
Asked what efforts they have made so far on the issue, Molebatsi said that they have made plans to ensure that cattle destined for the BMC abattoirs are kept in feedlots for up to 40 days as required by the EU amongst other things.
He also said that a lot of improvements have been made on issues relating to the hygiene in the abattoirs, which was also required by the EU.
The Deputy Minister was, however, reluctant to give dates of when that would happen.
“We cannot give exact dates on that but I am confident it will be soon,” he said.
Botswana stopped selling meat to the EU after the EU raised concerns about the country’s inadequate system of traceability of cattle.
Besides the EU, he said that the BMC had started selling beef to South Africa, adding that other markets that the BMC is selling to are Angola and Zimbabwe, which he said are proving to be lucrative.
The government of Botswana suspended beef exports to the European market in February in order to address compliance issues. The move led to the industry, the third after mining and tourism, losing millions of Pula in revenues.
The EU raised concerns about traceability following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.
The Chairman of the Botswana Cattle Producers’ Association (BCPA), Philip Fischer, has previously raised concerns that the suspension of exports to the EU would not only impact on direct exports but also on exports to third-country markets, since ‘most non-EU markets require EU certification’.
The move also came at a time when the beef industry was growing. Last year, BMC exported 12, 000 tonnes of beef products to Europe and will not be servicing that market until compliance issues have been resolved.
BMC said in the year BMC faces a big deficit of between P150 million to P200 million by the end of 2011.
An EU delegation will be visiting the BMC on Thursday.