Beef sector liberalisation study commences
The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security is undertaking a study on the liberalisation of the beef sector, Assistant Minister Kgotla Autlwetse told Parliament.
Autlwetse said the study commenced this year and it is expected to be completed in September 2017. “The study endeavours to assess the feasibility of liberalisation of Botswana beef export market in order to allow other players in the beef industry to participate in the international beef market. The findings of the study should inform Government decision on whether or not the monopoly on the export of beef products, live cattle, should or should not be removed,” said Autlwetse.
The study which is being done through private consultancy follows recommendations of a 2013 Sector Pitso Conference convened by many stakeholders in Botswana. He however, said it would be premature to prefix a date without even having the basis nor recommendations of the study if at all there is need to abolish the BMC monopoly or replace it with a liberalised sector.
Autlwetse was responding to a question raised by Specially Elected MP Mephato Reatile, who wanted to know when Botswana would start beef market liberalisation. Reatile said this comes after the Ministry came with an initiative to liberalise with an aim to abolish the Botswana Meat Commission monopoly a few years ago. MP Noah Salakae stood to correct Reatile, that it was never an initiative to liberalise the BMC or the BMC Act but rather wanted to privatise the Lobatse Meat Commission.
This was during the time of Christiaan De Graff as its Minister, and parliament at the time rejected the initiative. Meanwhile, Reatile shared that, “in 2013, an estimated cost of beef to the global market was 42.4billion dollars and Botswana accounted to 1600 million dollars only. Which means that it was only 0.3 percent of the entire global beef market. “This means that the market is still there and if we liberalise and allow others to export we can move up from that 0.3 percent to at least 5 percent.” Reatile said it would be ideal to start with beef market liberalisation before the privatisation of the abattoirs.
Currently the cattle population in Botswana stands at 2.5million. Breaking it down, the Southern Region which covers Ngwaketse South, North, Central and West has a population of 185 962, Gaborone region (Ramotswa, Tlokweng, Kweneng South,North, and West and Kgatleng) has 347 211, Central region (Mahalapye East, West, Palapye, Serowe, Bobonong, Letlhakane, Selibe Phikwe) has 545 785, Francistown region (Tati, Tutume and Tonota) has 202 791, Maun region (Ngamiland West, East, Chobe) is at 201 339. Western region (Gantsi, Hukuntsi and Tsabong) is 113 517.