The decision by the government which is set to adopt a new approach of Commodity Based Trade (CBT) in marketing the Ngamiland beef is a new ray of hopes for farmers. The approach is set to move the rich cattle district out of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) doldrums and bring beef forward as valuable contributor to household incomes and GDP. A report on Exploring Marketing Opportunities for Commodity Based Trade (CBT) of BEEF FROM Ngamiland released in September 2017 and prepared by Dr Mark Bing – a consultant veterinarian at Vetswana in Lobatse, Clive Marshall from Marshall Cattle Service and Mokadi Masedi from North West Integrated Farmers Association – explores opportunities on CBT for the region. The report states that apart from the period between the establishments of BMC Maun in 1984 to the outbreak of CBPP in 1995, the overriding impression has been that for more than 100 years Ngamiland has operated in a manner not conducive to any form of commercial beef herd development. It further states that it has continually been stricken with periods of marketing uncertainty which gives rise to a lack of investment and a feeling of helplessness amongst producers, to the point whereby cattle are deemed a financial burden rather than an asset. It also read that 86% of Ngamiland farmers interviewed admitted that drought is the biggest cause of mortality in the 21st century is telling of the horrendous lack of market access. The authors state that regardless of the circumstances that have prevailed up to now, with the new possibilities offered by CBT principles, the time may have come to move Ngamiland out of the FMD doldrums and bring beef forward as a valuable contributor to household incomes and GDP.
“It is very clear that while this is the desired direction, implementation of the required changes in the livestock sector is going to be extremely challenging and that education, finance and market development are the key areas of concern,” reads a report. The report also observes that farmers must never lose sight of the fact that many communal producers will be reluctant to follow new production principles without understanding why they are necessary and what the eventual benefit for the extra effort will be. The report indicates that diversification of the beef value chain must be the goal, so that initially cattle numbers can be reduced while an educational drive is undertaken to improve the rangeland, so that better quality cattle can be produced. Grain feeding of a cohort of the cattle population is essential, and this will create jobs and help reduce losses in drought, they say. The report states that a CBT highlights the need to apply a set of rules to a value chain (in this case for beef) to yield products safe for export. Rules worked out by DVS, which understands their practical implications for farmers, are essential. A successful outcome would be to produce sought-after farmers-assured products based on CBT principles. Farmers who want to better themselves could adopt CBT, with long-term improvements in terms of poverty alleviation and sustainable livelihoods being the result.