Monday, February 26, 2024

The journey towards Beef market liberalisation continues

All processes necessary for the establishment of a meat industry regulatory have been put in place and a new law that establishes an authority body is set to reach the floor of parliament next month (July 2022).

Acting Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture Colleen Diswai told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee this week that the Agriculture ministry has drafted the meat industry regulatory authority bill and has since circulated it across all Ministries for comments.

“It is our expectation that the bill to be discussed at the next session of Parliament and we believe that the creation of the meat regulatory authority will provide the necessary regulatory infrastructure that will allow the beef market industry to be properly regulated and properly liberalized,” she said.

She stated that currently the BMC has been doing a role of being the one that approves when people can export beef despite the fact that it is also a beef exporter.

“We are trying to separate that role by the creation of the meat industry regulatory authority and also to allow for independent actors in the sector to be regulated by the meat industry regulatory authority,” she added

Diswai also said they have already started putting measures in place to develop the terms of reference of the people who will be running the meat industry regulatory authority in readiness.

Different stakeholders have over the past appealed to government to establish a meat regulator in order to make the beef sector competitive and beneficial to farmers.

Botswana Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) Secretary Andrew Seeletso stated that the meat regulator is critical in ensuring that the cattle industry playing field is level.

“It is critical for the country to maintain its reputation as producers of the highest quality beef that meets globally acceptable standards like the EU and others. This helps to maintain the niche markets that our beef currently enjoys. Because of our low cattle numbers due to a number of different factors including droughts etc., our competitive advantage remains quality and not quantity,” he said.

He further said the meat regulator will be responsible to ensure that correct practices are adhered to when it comes to both beef and live cattle exports.

Seeletso also said the regulator is a market imperative in today’s competitive world, adding that it is a global practice that ensures that all industry players are subjected to the same requirements. In our country other sectors like the telecommunications industry are regulated, it goes for quite a few others.

He highlighted that the BNBPU was instrumental in recommending for the establishment of the meat regulator some years back.

“The consultants that were appointed to look into the industry turnaround strategy also recommended the creation of meat regulator. The BNBPU membership anxiously awaits the establishment of the meat regulator without delay. This will enhance current efforts of resuscitating the industry as a whole,” said Seeletso.

In 2019, President Mokgweetsi Masisi indicated that the strategy calling for the liberalization of the Botswana beef export market had been duly completed.

He stated that the liberalization strategy would effect the restructuring of the BMC resulting in the separation of the linked Lobatse, Maun and Francistown plants and the privatization of the commission.

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