Bots gives farmers nod to export live cattle
Gaborone – The government of Botswana has granted farmers permission to export live cattle older than 30 months to countries within the region effective from August 5 to December 31.
The Minister of Agriculture says the new arrangement is subject to review at the end of the period. The farmers will, however, have to make own export arrangements subject to meeting the necessary procedures and veterinary requirements for both Botswana and the recipient countries.
The farmers had sought government permission to export livestock to minimise losses in the prevailing drought and expand their markets, as only the country’s meat commission, Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), had the authority to export live cattle.
Previously, the meat commission would buy cattle above 30 months on a needs basis.
Under the new arrangement, the meat commission will continue buying cattle above 30 months, through the existing quota system and on a needs basis. It will continue to purchase all cattle less than 30 months (0-2 tooth) through the traditional channels ‑ where farmers are informed of the sale points and dates.
Botswana declared the drought situation in the country a national emergency recently.
Under the emergency relief programme, the government introduced subsidies of up to 35 percent on selected stockfeeds and supplements to cushion the farmers from the effects of the drought. The farmers are, however, complaining that prices remain high and the stockfeed is hard to source, with some farmers having to travel long distances to get supplies.
Meanwhile, agriculture ministry spokesperson, Geoffrey Pheko, has said the livestock export arrangement does not cover cattle in foot-and-mouth disease-affected areas such as Ngamiland and some parts of the North East.
The new development would be welcome news to many farmers who have been arguing against the policy that prohibited them from exporting live cattle to countries like South Africa, which is reported to pay more than what BMC pays the farmers.
On the other hand, the new development could harm BMC, which is currently reeling in financial problems allegedly as a result of the loss of the lucrative European Union market.
BMC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale, has, however, voiced the commission’s support of the new arrangement because of the prevailing drought situation.
“We are facing drought, so we think it is better that farmers be allowed to sell their cattle outside the country rather than to have them perish from drought,” he says.
Though BMC has not yet assessment of the new arrangement yet, Tombale says does not think that it would affect them adversely.