The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has raised concerns over the escalating rate of cattle found with measles at their slaughter facilities, which cost the company close to P80 million since January this year.
This was revealed by its Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale at a press briefing held in Lobatse yesterday (Monday). “Lobatse abattoir was mostly hit by measles in June-July where the rate was beyond 10 per cent. Other abattoirs (Francistown and Maun are below 10 per cent. This measles outbreak is due to drought and also human/animal related interaction increases as cattle posts are now becoming settlements with very poor sanitary facilities. This is a bad reflection for us as a country on the way we manage our livestock,” said Dr Tombale.
He said cattle detected with measles after slaughter are not able to sell to European Union market and the meat is kept in a cold treatment for 10-14 days and later sold to non-EU markets at a very low price. This, he said is a big loss.
To avoid the rates from escalating further, he said the BMC together with stakeholders (Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development) are embarking on a national campaign to sensitise not only the farmers but general public on the matter. He said they hope that there will be a decrease in measles cases by year 2014.
BMC’s executive manager (strategy and management), Dr Stephen Ghanie said measles is a problem of human population not cattle. “We need to promote it as a population problem and do something dramatic to cut the lifecycle. It is about keeping the environment clean and cooking well,” he said.
The BMC management indicated that measles has been there and therefore has not been taken seriously in the past.
On the other matter, BMC has previously had difficulties with the Lobatse plant due to equipment failures. With regards to this, Dr Tombale said that they are in discussions with interested parties to finance some of the company’s capital needs. “We told the Board and government that we need to look for strategic partners to modernise our facilities (canneries). There are several interested parties and we are trying to steer them into different plants instead of them financing the whole Commission,” the CEO revealed.
He further said that the BMC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with high value markets such as the Gulf Estates (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia amongst them), Hong Kong, Tanzania and Angola. He said negotiations are ongoing to supply Kenya. However, he indicated that the problem with African markets is that they are low value markets.