The Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Meat Commission, Dr Akolang Tombale, has said though he is not against calls to end BMC monopoly, there is need to approach the liberation of the beef industry with caution.
Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference at the BMC premises this week, Tombale warned that communal farmers should not be left in the lurch when the beef industry is liberalised or when there are new entrants in the market.
“I don’t have a problem with liberalisation of the beef industry, but we should ensure that there are controls in place,” he said.
Agriculture Minister, Christian De Graaf, tabled a BMC amendment bill last year, seeking to liberalize the beef industry.
But his attempts were rejected by MPs, saying the move would kill the ailing industry. Tombale says regulations must be in place before ending the BMC monopoly.
On other issues, Tombale is optimistic that he will have taken the BMC to its past profitable days when his contract comes to an end this year.
“My responsibility is to hold my colleagues responsible in the areas they are in. I want to ensure that during my 12 months assignment the organisation operates profitably like it used to do in the past,” he said.
On issues of board members serving their personal interests, the former Permanent Secretary said they intend to document board members’ roles.
“When there is no documentation, people stray into each other’s roles,” he said.
Tombale added that as part of his effort to turn around the fortunes of BMC, the Commission aims to slaughter 200 000 cattle this year.
“Many farmers have pledged a lot of cattle and though that is going to be problematic in terms of capacity, we will find ways of capturing those cattle. Out of the 200 000 cattle that we need to slaughter for the organisation to return to profit, 90 000 will go to the EU markets and the remainder to the local market. We will also have to control our spending,” said Tombale.
He revealed that the Commission has engaged a UK based company for marketing purposes.
“There is need to change the market structure. We need to sit and sell meat and not market it and we have engaged a company to do that. Generally we were buying cattle and selling. We were supposed to sell products but our marketing was not good,” he said.
Admitting that cattle prices were very low when compared to other neighbouring countries, Tombale assured farmers that plans are underway to review BMC cattle prices.
He said the Commission was prepared for the European Union auditors who are expected to carry out an inspection at the Commission sometime in March this year.