10 January 2013

Namibia: Botswana Wants to Learn From Meatco

A TASK team for the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is to arrive in Windhoek to familiarise themselves with the conditions and systems of the Namibian meat industry in an effort to steer the parastatal into a profit-making entity.

This comes at a time when the BMC's Namibian counterpart, Meatco, is going through a period of ownership uncertainty, with the government demanding a 30% share in the new Meat Company, while the producers are resisting State intervention.

Daniel Kgasa from the Botswana High Commission in Namibia told The Namibian that his government appointed the task team and the Namibian government was already approached for a benchmarking visit when such a visit would be feasible.

"The aim of the benchmarking visit is to compare the Namibian meat industry with that of Botswana and to determine what systems in use can be adopted at the BMC. We hope that the visit will materialise before the end of this month."

In terms of a press release issued by the BMC by the middle of last year it stated that it has recorded consecutive losses of P107 million, P88 million and P206 million in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.

"Furthermore, for the current financial year (2012/2013), Botswana Meat Commission books of accounts show a forecasted loss of P77 million. It was in response to these financial difficulties that in 2012 the government of Botswana gave Botswana Meat Commission a loan of P104 million and lately P250 million," read the release.

Oloff Munjanu of the National Namibian Farmers Union (NNFU) told The Namibian that the BMC can learn a lot from Meatco while it is still in the hands of the producers.

"However, Government now wants to turn a success story into a loss-making entity. How will it be possible that Meatco can continue with its successes if the government wants to turn it into a parastatal."

Munjanu said it is a known fact the the majority of the parastatals in Namibia experienced losses running in the millions and that some have to be bailed out every now and then.

"We cannot guarantee the producers that Meatco will continue making profits if the producers do not continue owning the company. The advice from me to the BMC is to covert the parastatal into a private company," said Munjanu.

Chairperson of the Livestock Producers' Association, Siegfried Schneider, told The Namibian that it is a known fact that the Botswana government has to pump millions into the BMC.

"This is not the case with the Meat Industry in Namibia and they [task team] will find that the reason for this is the close involvement of the producers in Meatco which despite paying good prices to the producers still made profits," said Schneider.

The BMC will benchmark with Meatco and other relevant authorities with regard to marketing process, livestock procurement, Meatco abattoirs and veterinary services.

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