Botswana farmers are reportedly unhappy with the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC)’s decision to reduce cattle prices indefinitely. The new development, which is supposed to be in effect this month, has been cited as an unwelcome development by farmers’ associations countrywide.
Although they understand the BMC‘s reasons for the reduction in prices, they feel that the BMC is being run like a department of the Ministry of Agriculture and that it disregards farmers as no consultations have been made.
The BMC recently aired advert about their decision to reduce cattle prices. The ad revealed that the new cattle prices came about as a result of the recent unforeseen loss of Botswana’s access to the European Union (EU) market. The BMC Public Relations Office said that the new price schedule will also be minus any PPS bonus.
“This reduction in prices is required to assist in mitigating the financial impact on the BMC and to ensure its business continuance. The commissioners are committed to maintaining Regional Export Parity Prices, which are updated weekly based on the published RSA prices,” said the BMC.
Beef exports to EU markets from Botswana have been suspended for a period of 6 months due to the deficiencies that were found by EU veterinary inspectors from the European Commission Food and Veterinary Office. Botswana then self-imposed a ban on sales to the EU markets after it received the results in March of this year. The results were for an inspection that was carried out in January 2011.
According to France Kanguaiko, secretary General of the Ovitore Farmers Association and member of the Ghanzi Farmers Association, the worst part was that most farmers remain clueless about the facts of the new initiative; all they can do is speculate.
“BMC doesn’t take farmers seriously; how can they make a decision this big without consulting farmers? Just recently we had a meeting with the BMC, why didn’t they say anything then,” said Kanguaiko.
Kanguiako said that the BMC had not been honest with them after they lost the EU market because they had told farmers that they would not be affected by the commission’s EU market loss. He said BMC had promised that by September everything will be back to normal but the new initiatives in place raises their suspicions on whether this will stand true by then.
Meanwhile Boyce Mhutsiwa of the Southern District Beef Cattle Association said that they did not have the complete particulars of the price cuts and the fact that they are already in effect .He said that his committee has received an email about the initiative but they haven’t met to discuss it and decide what it means for their future. He said that they were mostly interested in prices of carcass weights and not of live weights. He, however, pointed out that even though they understand why the BMC had to reduce its prices, they are not happy about the development.
“From our point of view, this situation could have long been prevented. We believe the Ministry of Agriculture should be held liable for allowing the situation to get this bad. They have been sitting on improving standards since 2001,” said Mhutsiwa.