Farmers want BMC privatised
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 over the weekend, 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 Botswana National Beef Producers Union, a body that predominantly represents commercial cattle barons across the county.
Responding to their suggestions, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Jimmy Opelo told the farmers that government is still considering the model of privatisation best suited for the BMC.
According to Pule, Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation agency is currently conducting consultations with the farmers.
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 BMC has failed to re-pay any of its P354 million debt to government, the sum of two loans it obtained from public revenues.
In view of the commission’s continued liquidity constraints, government has since issued a directive that the loan be converted into equity.
Considering this, together with other challenges facing BMC, farmers feel it is the time the national abattoir is put in the hand of private operators.
Farmers have also requested they be allowed to sell their live cattle outside the country due to the drought.
According to the PS, government is not against this proposal is long as the right procedure is followed.
“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 cattle takes into consideration the situation we are in,” explained Pule.
Responding to farmers’ enquiries on which BMC facility experience the worst loss, BMC Acting CEO, Dr Boitumelo Mogome-Maseko revealed the Francistown abattoir has never made any profit, even during its peak.
“The Francistown abattoir since inception, even at its best year it only utilised 49 percent of the plant facility. To break even and talk about profitability you need to be using 85 percent. So you can see how far from profitability was the Francistown BMC!” said Maseko.
She said when in operation, the Maun abattoir’s profits were limited by animal diseases found in the area.
Additionally, farmers have complained about what they say is a big gap between the tree stakeholders, that is them, the ministry, as well as BMC.