Local farmers have pleaded with the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security to privatise Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). Speaking during the cattle farmers’ association conference held in Sebele recently, the farmers stressed they want BMC to be privatised.
They believe this will help the Commission turn a profit and ultimately, ensure they are paid better rates. The conference was organised by the Botswana National Beef Producers Union, a body that predominantly represents commercial cattle barons across the county. Responding to their suggestions, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Jimmy Opelo told the farmers that the government is still considering the model of privatisation best suited for the BMC.
The Commission remains one of the worst performing State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), recording a loss of P242.15 million last year, according to the latest Auditor General’s report. In addition, the BMC has failed to repay any of its P354 million debt to the government, the sum of two loans it obtained from public revenues.
In view of the commission’s continued liquidity constraints, the government has issued a directive that the loan be converted into equity. Taking this into account, alongside other challenges facing the BMC, the farmers feel it is time the national abattoir was put in the hands of private operators. The farmers have also requested that they be allowed to sell their live cattle outside the country due to the drought.
In response, the Permanent Secretary said;
“We are not against the sale of live cattle. If there are people outside the country who say they can accept cattle from this side, they can go provided all the necessary protocols of the movement of the cattle takes into consideration the situation we are in,” explained Pule.