- President announced the extension on Monday
- Cattle barons in Ghanzi block want direct beef exportation added
The extension of the dispensation on the export of live cattle has divided farmers across the country. This comes after President Mokgweetsi Masisi announced in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) that the arrangement will continue for the next two years.
“I must acknowledge that the beef industry has been faced with challenges in the past years,” said the President. “As of October 2020, government took a decision to allow for export of live cattle, which is a major relief for farmers and an alternative market for the beef industry.”
“As of September 2021, 160 860 cattle were exported to neighbouring South Africa and Namibia. The export of live cattle is expected to continue for the next two years, subject to periodic reviews.”
According to the Publicity Secretary of Botswana National Beef Producers Union (BNBPU), Andrew Seeletso, farmers hold different views on the matter, with some in agreement with it and others against it for impacting the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).
“My personal view is that the BMC needs competition like any other business,” Seeletso said. “A healthy competition would benefit the farmer and ultimately the industry as a whole.”
He added that the arrangement is currently bearing fruit as farmers now have an alternative to the BMC, Senn Foods and feedlots.
The dispensation was to come to an end next month after it was introduced in March 2019 to liberalise the beef sector and discontinue the export monopoly hitherto enjoyed by the BMC. When it began, a key condition was that a maximum of 30 percent of a farmer’s total herd could be exported.
When the BMC could no longer meet its obligations to farmers in accordance with the BMC Act, specifically on pricing and turnaround times for payment, BNBPU successfully pressed for permission of its members to export live animals. Under the dispensation, farmers in Botswana can to SADC markets, South Africa and Namibia.
BNBPU subsequently campaigned for the arrangement to become permanent. The position enjoys the backing of cattle barons of Ghanzi Block Beef Farmers Association. One of them, Alywn Van De Heever, says they direct beef exportation should be added to exportation of live animals.
He said the move will help in the restoration of the beef industry and thus helping government to realize a thriving beef industry.
Government has previously stated that it has not yet established a long lasting and sustainable solution to the liberation of the beef industry.
It has also been reported that the export arrangement has however led to low production at the embattled BMC since many farmers now prefer external markets.
BMC maintains that live cattle exports out of Botswana should be considered only when excess national processing capacity is addressed and only when proper regulatory frameworks are in place to protect the country against exploitation and erosion of national herd.