Maun — European Union (EU)'s Head of Cooperation, Mr Federico Berna says EU markets are not ready to import beef from the Ngamiland region.
Responding to a question during a press conference recently, Mr Berna noted that for EU to import beef, there was need for approval from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), whose mission was to ensure transparency and enhance knowledge of the worldwide animal health situation.
Ngamiland region has been declared a red zone due to occurrence of livestock diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease and farmers have been struggling to secure markets.
The press conference followed a visit to Maun by EU delegation, whose mission was to appreciate how the beef industry operates and they toured one of the local farms to see production.
The purpose of the visit was also to appreciate, from the local context, issues of national interest in terms of developments, challenges encountered by the community, and how they address issues such as human wildlife conflict and how the tourism industry benefits the community.
Mr Berna revealed that while they appreciated efforts by Botswana to implement some initiatives, such as commodity based trade (CBT) concept, there were no plans to buy meat from the region.
The implementation of the CBT concept is expected to help in processing of beef in the red zone region to accepted standards for local, Southern African region and international markets.
It will also help address lack of markets for the Ngamiland beef.
Mr Berna appreciated that beef was the second Botswana product to be exported to EU markets after diamonds.
The EU agreement enables Botswana to export beef duty and quota-free to the EU.
He said it was important for Botswana to intensify its efforts on securing lucrative markets regionally, as it was producing quality beef, which could attract a lot of attention if there was a sound marketing strategy in place.
Head of delegation, Mr Jan Sadek explained that EU supported economic diversification drive, adding that the beef industry was another area that had the potential to help in the drive.
He pledged EU support for Botswana's efforts to diversify its economy, saying they wanted the country to become more export focused and not only diamonds and beef.
EU support to Botswana is to contribute to inclusive economic development through the development of diversified sources of economic growth and labour market relevant skills and competencies as well as relevant reform measures with a focus on gender equality policies and women economic empowerment.
He expressed delight that they managed to interact with farmers at the farms and also toured the quarantine to appreciate how it worked.
"Our trip to the farms was an eye opener as we learnt about the quarantine system and how complex it is before selling the cattle," he said.
Furthermore, Mr Sadek said EU supported Botswana on areas such as job creation, adding that they had a support programme for Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) reforms.
The programme supports developing and aligning the technical and vocational education and training systems in Botswana.
He revealed that the programme aimed to address the problem of mismatch between qualifications produced by the education system and the requirements of the labour market, which was an inhibiting factor in the country for private sector development and job creation.
The programme also seeks to increase the readiness of TVET graduates by strengthening the governance of the TVET system, improving the quality and relevance of TVET programmes.
It also supports the introduction of TVET at senior schools level, through the implementation of multiple education pathways and enhancing the transition of the labour market through gender sensitive work based learning opportunities.
Source : BOPA