Small stock farmers are planning to form a single advocacy group which will enable them to have proper dialogue with government over the running of the much anticipated Tsabong multi-species abattoir.
Mogomotsi Leinanyane of Association of Small stock farming said mobilisation to consolidate other Associations to form a single group has already begun.
He said it has proven to be a difficult task to engage government over the operations of the abattoir and the intended export markets arguing that having too many Associations will likely defeat any plans to lobby government on certain issues.
“Unlike cattle which most people sometimes believe that it is expensive to buy and care for, almost every Motswana is a small stock farmer and that is why we felt that we need to have small stock farmers under one roof,”
“We have too many small stock farmers in the country and some of them will not be able to understand how they will transport their stock to Tsabong and how much they will be paid since there are indications that there are emerging export markets,” he said.
Leinanyane added that in consultative meetings with government, only two countries being Saudi Arabia and Zambia have been mentioned as possible destinations for the country’s meat products.
“Our plan is to engage Botswana Meat Commission after we have consolidated Associations so that we can have a better understanding in terms of how farmers will be paid when selling to the abattoir,”
“No one should see the Association as a tool to fight government, we are doing this to also help in terms of knowing the number of small stock we have and whether we can lobby government to look for more foreign markets where we can sell,” added Leinanyane.
The Association chairman highlighted that even though the process is likely to take a longer period, it is however expected that it will be worthwhile for the farming community.
“We are not only focused in bringing together small stock farmers from the Southern part of the country but rather we have since communicated with more than 10 Associations from the north and we are planning a meeting soon,”
“Once engagements have taken place, we will be meeting government over some of the grievances and what we can look forward to once the abattoir is operational,” stated Leinanyane.
In recent times, government has been worried over what appears to be low population of small stock in the country amid growing international markets interest.
The P161.7 million multi-species abattoir is strategically placed to take advantage of the high small stock population in the Kgalagadi area. President Mokgweetsi Masisi has previously revealed that Botswana has identified lucrative markets in the Middle East for the export of mutton, lamb, and chevon and game meat.
Government has also indicated to be willing to leverage on Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development Programme (LIMID) to supply the abattoir with small stock.
It was reported that the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development Programme Phase II was established in 2010, with its primary objectives was to improve livestock production and eradicate poverty.