Things are turning around at the Maun Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) which has been struggling to attract buyers from international market. The Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Patrick Ralotsia said this week at a consultative meeting with Ngamiland farmers on the future of the abattoir that a lot of countries are showing interest in buying their beef. Ralotsia said Maun BMC has started selling its beef to Vietnam, Kuwait and Mozambique. He said this is due to the commitment made by Ngamiland farmers to contain the spread of Foot and Mouth disease in the area. The last outbreak of FMD in Ngamiland was in September 2015. “I would like to thank Ngamiland farmers for their effort in the fight against FMD; you need to be congratulated,” he said.
He said government is planning to lift some red zones in Ngamiland and turn them into green zones so that farmers in those areas can start selling their beef to the lucrative European markets. Prices for Maun BMC will change for better, he promised, adding that government wants to build a processing plant in Maun BMC. Ralotsia also revealed that the government wants to privatise the BMC hence they are holding consultative meetings with farmers on the matter. The targeted abattoirs are those in Lobatse and Francistown. Ralotsia said in the case of Lobatse BMC, they intend to have it run a partnership between the government and some private investors. As for the Francistown abattoir, they want to sell it completely. He said the reason behind privatising BMC is that it is not making profit.
Meanwhile, Ngamiland farmers have welcomed the idea of leaving Maun BMC as it is. They, however, asked the minister to give them time to consult among themselves after which they will send a delegate to meet the minister. A farmers’ representative Mokadi Masedi urged government to review some legislations. “We request the government to take over the BMC monopoly, the BMC is becoming a referee and a player at the same time,” he said. He called for the reintroduction of quarantines as they used to benefit farmers. He said this will be possible as they want to adopt the commodity-based trade system that is recognised by the International health organisation.