“Where to from here for the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) Francistown plant?” the BMC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Akolang Tombale rhetorically asked this question last Friday when addressing a North East Farmers’ Pitso in Francistown.
Tombale told the gathering that there is need for immediate interventions to be implemented to correct or reform the anomaly and also already declared challenges of the beef processing corporation or even the beef value chain as a whole.
Francistown region, as much as it is regarded a volatile area especially the recurrence of the virulent Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), remains an important part of the country’s beef sector.
Data from Statistics Botswana’s 2013 annual survey report asserted that the Francistown region has 223 701 cattle from a total cattle head count of just above two million animals in 2013 of which about 14 500 (6.5percent) was sold to BMC Francistown plant, Tombale said.
He added that the national statistical authority data also stresses that cattle population in the whole country had reduced by 7.1percent owing to the countrywide decline in birth rate at 50.6percent.
“But also due to an increase of mortality rate to 12.6percent, reoccurrences of the pandemic FMD and other ailments, the 7.1percent countrywide reduction was realized,” Tombale told stunned farmers.
If this data represents a trend and BMC Francistown plant was indeed achieving full capacity at 400 slaughter a day, Tombale said, it means then that the abattoir could only be effective for 36.5 days, at least one month in a total of 12 months.
“What happened in the other 11 months, you may ask?” Tombale asked rhetorically, adding that his hope was that BMC management’s engagement with cattle farmers would benefit both the corporation and ranchers.
Tombale added that figures achieved for slaughter in 2013 at the BMC abattoir is 38 033, then the assumption would be that the plant would open its doors for only 95.1 days (about three months) for the whole year if the plant was operating fully (at 400 slaughter a day).
Thanks to the uninspiring slaughter figures in 2013, BMC Francistown plant posted a P9.7million loss, farmers heard.
The situation got even worse in 2014 where the annual slaughter figure achieved for the plant was only 27 681 – signaling that BMC ought to have opened the plant for 65 days only in a year hence the losses shot to P44million for the year under review.
“Losses were largely necessitated by a spread of less productive days across the year to keep the plant open for business,” sad the CEO of the perennial loss making BMC, saying the scenario shows exactly where the plant is heading if no immediate interventions are implemented.
It is clear that the plant’s capacity does not correspond with the cattle supply against the population in the Francistown area and the better part of the northern Botswana and has become more cancerous to the entire operations of the BMC and possibly the sector, he said.
Farmers have been complaining about BMC’s late payment process and low proceeds among other issues.