As the inevitable effects of the looming drought become even more clearer, the national beef trader, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is calling on farmers to sell cattle to them as per permissible quota requires. It has now become apparent that farmers are reluctant to sell to the BMC due to the conditions that their cattle are currently in and would want to at least wait for the rainy season to revive grazing fields.
So bad is the situation that it is now dealing a bad blow on the on-going BMC field buying programme known as the direct-cattle buying plan (DCP). “Although our target per area is usually as much as our feedlot quota can accommodate, In Mahalapye communal area we only managed to buy 21 cattle from farmers in that area,” said BMC livestock Procurement Executive Manager Kenneth Makubate.
Makubate advised farmers to rather sell now, as chances are the more time they wait, the more severe climate conditions will get, which will eventually mean they will end up with dead cattle than money in the bank.
Besides that, Makubate explained that the direct cattle buying plan which is more convenient to farmers as cattle are bought just at their doorstep should be taken advantage of. “We operate on a very busy timetable, if you miss the chance to sell when we are in your area, you will then be forced to transport your cattle to the next area we will be buying from,” he said. Other options available, he said, will then be directly transporting cattle to the BMC Sunnyside farm in Lobatse, which besides requiring the farmer to book in advance will mean the farmer now has to pop from his/her pocket to fund transportation from their respective farms.
That farmers may be hesitant to sell because of the cash troubles that the BMC was recently reportedly in, which translated in the commission not paying farmers on time, Makubate assured farmers that BMC was now without financial woes and will pay them in time. “BMC will honour payments to all farmers/suppliers, in a period not exceeding 21 days after supplying/buying,” said Makubate. Adding that ideally farmers are supposed to be paid within 14 calendar days. “ As it is, our cash flow problems have been sorted, we do not owe anyone money anymore,” he added. BMC is currently facing stiff competition from private butcheries and other commercial meat dealers, who entice farmers by buying cattle from them throughout the year.