The biggest beneficiary to the export of live animals for slaughter will be the farmers in the Ngamiland who had to sell their livestock for a song due to the foot and mouth disease in the area. Due to the current situation, government through Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security granted farmers a temporary window for export of live cattle for slaughter which will be reviewed in March 2020. Addressing the media on Wednesday, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Fidelis Molao revealed that Ngamiland is included in the dispensation to export live cattle. Recently farmers in the area saw more than 300 of their cattle trapped in the mud at the drying Lake Ngami and subsequently died. Molao said that shortage of water and depleted rangelands is one of the reasons to allow farmers to reduce their herd by selling them. Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has been on its knees with some of their assets being attached by creditors due to cash flow prompted government to allow farmers to export their live cattle for slaughter. “There are a number of factors that have led to the untenable situation that threatens the beef industry in its entirety.
Key amongst them are: historical poor business management of the Botswana Meat Commission,” he revealed. Another issue that threatened the national herd was lack of export parity pricing, delay in paying value chain players especially the farmers who supply the raw material being cattle, this he said in the fall of the sales and poor revenue earnings or collections. As a way of mitigating measures Molao said they issued the temporary permits to allow farmers to export live cattle for slaughter because if they don’t do that animals preserved for selling will die due to drought. Though BMC increased the price of Cold Dressed Mass (CDM) to P3.00/kg, Molao revealed that feedlotters are responding negatively as farmers selling to feedlotters are experiencing problems in that they are reluctant to pass the said increase to the farmers. Molao highlighted that slaughter cattle refer to oxen, tollies, culled cows and culled bulls.“No export of breeding cattle shall be permitted under this dispensation. Breeding cattle refers to cows, heifers and bulls,” he said adding that an individual shall be allowed to only export a maximum of 30% of their total herd over the entire dispensation. The South African Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) expressed their discomfort regarding the move by Botswana government noting that it will result in local prices thus putting farmers in South Africa under immense financial pressure. Molao said that one of the countries to openly agree to the move was the South African government as it is in line with the free trade agreement between SADC countries. On the concern by the RPO Molao said it is part of trade politics and they cannot avoid it.