Tsootsha — Government has decided to allow exportation of live cattle effective October 1 to December 30, Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Mr Karabo Gare has announced.
Addressing Ghanzi region farmers at Tsootsha on Sunday, the minister said government would be keeping a close eye on the development over the three months with a view to extend the period.
The Minister also informed the farmers that with immediate effect private abattoirs interested in exporting beef would be licensed.
He explained that government's intention was to liberalize the beef sector and discontinue the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) as the country's sole beef exporter.
Mr Gare said his ministry was ready to capacitate and facilitate those wishing to establish abattoirs for exporting beef.
"As Ghanzi region, you had long wished to have an abattoir so I am ready to help you to open an abattoir," he stated.
He assured farmers that both dispensations would not benefit only a few.
The minister said government had yet to establish a long lasting and sustainable solution to the liberation of the beef industry.
His assistant, Ms Beauty Manake was hopeful that farmers would not disappoint and challenged them to adopt public private partnership to grow the cattle industry.
Ms Manake stated that the agricultural economic stimulus or recovery plan would among others focus on infrastructure development to enable farmers to reinvest in beef industry.
Ghanzi Block Beef Farmers Association representative, Mr Alywn Van de Heever hailed the news delivered by the minister saying the organisation had long called for exportation of live animals and direct beef export.
The organisation is made up of four associations being Ghanzi, Okwa-Gwana, Ovitore and Keledi.
The developments, he said, amounted to rebuilding of beef industry adding that the association pledged to help government in the endeavour.
Mr Van de Heever said for years, the association had been ignored and its proposal rejected explaining that the Botswana National Beef Producers Union did not represent all farmers.
"To ignore us and our contributions will not be beneficial to the beef industry. We want to be recognised and the minister and related authorities should listen to our contribution and input," he stated.
Another farmer, Mr Onkabetse Gaebuse also welcomed the news and expressed the hope that communal area farmers would benefit.
Mr Gaebuse requested the establishment of a special court for stock theft cases and condemned those who settled rustling matters outside courts.
He also called for infrastructure development of agricultural areas.
Responding to the alleged impasse between the association and union, Minister Gare and Gaborone Central MP, Mr Tumisang Healy also member of the finance and estimates committee urged the two parties to reconcile.
Mr Healy also told farmers that they would soon benefit from P100 million government bailout programme.
In his welcome remarks, Tsootsha leader Kgosi Bernard Kaome complained that farmers did not reap anything from their cattle, a situation exacerbated by low BMC prices.
He also expressed concern over rampant veldt fires in the Ghanzi region and called for rehabilitation of fire breakers.
Source : BOPA