600K-strong BNPU is anxious to prevent BMC falling into foreign hands
The Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) has approached the government about taking over of the ailing Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), The Botswana Gazette has established.
The 600 000-strong organisation is anxious to prevent the near-monopoly parastatal from falling into the hands of foreign investors.
According a spokesman of BNBPU, Andrew Seeletso, cattle farmers are ready to contribute to a common fund with which to purchase the BMC and revitalise it as a commercial enterprise.
“We want the BMC to be run by farmers,” Seeletso said in an exclusive interview with The Gazette. “We are not even saying that the government should help us financially to acquire this parastatal. We have the means to buy the BMC because we have over 600 000 registered members in Botswana.”
Seeletso said Botswana cattle farmers are against selling the parastatal to a foreign investor, saying there would be greater returns to Botswana farmers if they owned and ran the enterprise themselves.
“I do not want to believe that the BMC has absolutely failed,” he asserted. “The problem has always been that the model used to run it is outdated and therefore needs restructuring.”
He added that the BMC is financially crippled and needs capital injection from cattle farmers who would invest in the knowledge that they would realise greater returns on a scale of the best international standards.
Botswana can ill afford to allow its cattle farming industry to collapse because it has employed many but farmers are losing interest in cattle because of late payment from the BMC, he added.
Asked about their plans for the BMC’s Francistown abattoir that is now closed, Seeletso said their proposal includes merging of both Francistown plant and the main plant in Lobatse in order to reduce operating costs.
“You will understand that the Francistown abattoir has not been operating because farmers were no longer selling their cattle to the BMC for the reason that it was paying them late, causing many to give up cattle farming,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Karabo Gare, has neither confirmed nor denied that his ministry has received such a proposal from BNBPU, saying he would look into the issue.