Botswana is not self-sufficient in small stock meat because small stock production experiences high mortalities of 16.3 percent and 12.6 percent for goats and sheep, respectively, and low off-take rates of 6.6 percent and 6.1 percent for goats and sheep respectively, says the Principal Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Moreri Moesi.
He said that the country is currently producing only about 50 and 90 tons of mutton and chevron, respectively, on quarterly basis (first quarter 2012/13).
On challenges farmers are faced with, he mentions low kidding/lambing percentages of 42.2 percent and 34.1 percent for goats and sheep, respectively, and unorganized marketing.
To tackle the challenges, he said that they are conducting training courses around the districts on a regular basis, and that the Department has small stock extension officers in the districts around the country who also visit farmers’ projects on regular basis to give technical advice and produce targeted extension messages quarterly.
Asked why the Botswana Meat Commission, which used to slaughter small stock, has stopped, Moesi said that BMC no longer slaughters small stock because they (BMC) could not get enough supply for sustainable running of the plant on the small stock line.
To tackle the problem of market for small stock he said that they are encouraging farmers to form producers’ associations through which they can organize themselves for organized and better marketing of their products.
In the Kgalagadi District, market days are organised and conducted on monthly basis and buyers come as far afield as Gaborone to buy their animals. Some farmers do conduct auction sales, especially of breeding bucks and rams during field days.
On improvements of breeds of small stock in the country, Moesi said that the Department of Animal Production (DAP) runs small stock farms where they produce and sell improved bucks and rams to the farming community through auction sales.