Botswana will open up its beef industry to allow farmers to export their meat directly, the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security told Parliament last Thursday.
The state-owned Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is currently the sole entity licensed to export beef. Local farmers have complained that this forces them to heavily slash prices to sell to the loss-making organisation. Worse still, more often than not, the BMC reportedly pays the farmers late.
The Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Dr Edwin Dikoloti said in parliament that a meat industry regulatory authority will be created to facilitate the liberalisation of exports.
“All processes necessary for the establishment of the regulatory are earmarked for completion by July 2020,” he said.
Like its neighbours, South Africa and Namibia, Botswana is a big exporter of beef. It was the ninth-largest beef exporter to the European Union in 2019, although its earnings from beef exports dropped from $130 million in 2010 to $80 million in 2018.
Despite several government bailouts, the BMC is insolvent and now earmarked for privatisation, with operational inefficiency, aged equipment and low output as well as its financial problems, weighing on the country’s beef industry.
Dr Dikoloti said a management consultancy firm would be appointed in preparation for the BMC’s privatisation and to assess what was required to make the organisation viable again.