Government is close to making a decision on the privatization of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) as consultations on the matter are near completion.
Answering a question on behalf of the Minister of Food Security and Agricultural Development in parliament recently, Minister of Tertiary Education Dr Alfred Madigele last week indicated that consultations on the recommendations of the study on the privatization of the meat commission are on-going and near completion, following suspension of the privatization process in February this year.
Government was forced to withhold Cabinet Memorandum to privatize the state-owned beef exporting entity to allow new feasibility study in the beef industry and consultations on the recommendations of the study.
When approached by The Botswana Gazette to reveal the privatization model which could be adopted following the consultations the Minister of Food Security and Agricultural Development Patrick Ralotsia declined to comment but assured that the privatized commission will consider the interest of farmers.
Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU), an organization which represents the interest of cattle farmers in the country has indicated that during consultations on privatization of BMC, majority of cattle farmers were not comfortable with privatization model suggested by government as it is silent on how the interests of small holder farmers will be promoted and does not clearly define the role that cattle farmers will play under the privatized BMC. According to the union, cattle farmers have indicated that before the privatization of BMC commences, cattle producer cooperatives should be established and partner with private investors who would buy BMC. It appears that consulted farmers want a cooperative which, in partnership with private sector investors, would privatize BMC abattoirs. The union stated that producer cooperative-private investors model could help to strike the right balance between the commercial interests of producers and investors.
BNBPU Chairman Mudongo Direng has indicated that efficiencies and synergies that the cooperatives could offer its members, could benefit cattle farmers, including cattle producer cooperatives owned and operated trucks that transport farming inputs to regional buying centres. “Botswana Cattle Producers Cooperative (BCPC) owned and operated trucks after transporting farming inputs to the BCPC’s regional buying centers will return with cattle collected from BCPC cattle buying centers which will be delivered to abattoirs thus ensuring affordable market access even for the smallest scale cattle producer,” said Direng.
He added that farmers also want a privatization model that would allow the establishment of a BCPC owned company that will buy and slaughter cattle, process and export beef to avoid monopoly of the beef export business by the private investors. “The BCPC will be an immensely empowering and enriching initiative controlled by cattle producers for cattle producers,” he said
According to Direng the cooperative will be an autonomous entity established to meet economic needs and aspirations of farmers.