Having waded through the storms of pandemics such as Cattle Lung Disease and Foot and Mouth Disease, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has said it is unscathed by shocks COVID-19 may bring.
The BMC has revealed it has in place an elaborate Business Continuity Management Plan, as part of lines-of-defense to combat any threat nor disruptions to its business or production at any given point.
Amid the pandemic, the BMC has purchased 8,319 cattle at a cost of P44, 990, 426.00 (P45 million) from farmers between April and May 2020.In the same period the beef-sector paid about P15, 149, 487 to farmers – as the other balances will mature in due course in compliance to the 14-21 days payment turnaround.
“I should hasten to say, since we are only now scaling-up production – revenue realization will be a bit slow and may affect our payment turnaround, however we are hard at work to secure adequate funding to ensure that all our supplier’s working-capital is not inconvenienced any further. In the preliminary (given that the situation is only but evolving) we can attest that our Business Continuity Plan has served the organization satisfactorily, however they will be gaps which needs attending to ensure thoroughness of the continuity plan, said Dr. Boitumelo Mogome-Maseko the BMC acting chief executive officer (CEO) briefing the nation recently.
“The reality is that we are as challenged as everyone, more so that above all, we are required to nonetheless submit to our mandate of delivering on food security – even beyond the confines of our sovereign borders. However, we remain ever hopeful that just as the many calamities to life, this too shall pass – if only we heed to the precautionary measures set,” she said.
The flag-bearer of beef production in Botswana, the BMC has representation of the region in advanced markets such as Europe, Middle East North Asia, and Africa– making up just about 52 countries which it has been trading in.
In the past six (6) years the business transformed into being a Billion-Pula revenue achiever – albeit with reduced throughput, and procures an average of P700 million worth of cattle from Batswana on per annum basis. However, I should in the same note the other financial underperformances or burden over the years which I will elaborate more on today. As a guarantor of operationality during any calamity, whether within or outside the business’ working environment.
“Since we trade in global markets and have offices outside Botswana – as well as in preempting the evolution of the pandemic – We at the BMC activated our Business continuity plan about a week before the lockdown was introduced. The plan introduced decongestion of workspaces and placed up to 20% (128 employees) of our workforce to work remotely from home. This was further enhanced by contact-less servicing using online platforms and tele-services for sales, procurement and support throughout,” said the acting CEO.
BMC also scaled-down weekly production to just about a quarter (25%) of plant’s capacity, to allow for production to be staggered (allowing different process crews to come to work on different dates).
“In ensuring operationality we communicated our production plan to stakeholders well ahead of time, especially our cattle farmers/suppliers – who responded affirmatively with very minimal glitches. In sales and marketing front – we adjusted and reprioritized our selling/supply to markets during lockdown and focused mainly on the two markets (i) Norwegian market, to address the annual 1,600 metric tons quota; as well as the (ii) Botswana market, through supplying the COVID-19 Food Basket with a product valued at P2,5 million, as well as local retail outlets. We however consulted with all our other global-clients, and assured them of supply when full production resumed. This was done with the best care to ensure we did not lose them, when things got back to normal,” said Dr. Mogome-Maseko.
To ensure its operational-plan was not inconvenienced during the State of Emergency, the BMC acquired four buses from Government to transport staff, to and from work, while ensuring extreme social distancing and repetitive disinfection of these buses.