Gaborone: The Botswana Meat Commission and its farmers could lose up to P450 million due to the suspension of exports to the lucrative EU market, a situation that will only be worsened by the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. Botswana Cattle Producers Association chair, Philip Fischer gave the bleak projections on Friday when launching a project designed to study the beef value chain from "farm to fork."
With an FMD outbreak in the north, the Lobatse abattoir only set to reopen today after a two-week closure and EU exports suspended, 2011 already ranks among the toughest years the BMC and farmers have encountered.
"Botswana's beef value chain is broken. Non-compliance with EU abattoir hygiene and animal traceability standards have lost us the EU market for at least six months which will cost the BMC and farmers a projected P450 million in lost revenue for 2011," said Fischer. "And because most non-EU markets require EU certification, our loss of EU certification has prevented the BMC from redirecting production into non-EU markets.
"Recent outbreaks of FMD in Zambia and South Africa have compromised our animal feed supply and the current outbreak of FMD in Zone 6, which has brought all movement of cloven-hoofed animals and fresh meat to a halt, has left the BMC and butcheries without cattle and Botswana consumers without beef. Cattle and cash, which together are the life's blood of the Botswana beef value chain, have stopped flowing."
Fischer's comments come as the beef industry in the north enters a dry spell due to the FMD outbreak, effectively sealing the BMC's Francistown abattoir, a key entry point for beef processing in the northern half of the country.
Even though the Lobatse abattoir is due to reopen today, a significant number of the 6 000 farmers who supply the BMC annually will be forced to incur high costs transporting cattle. Under current law, the farmers cannot export the cattle, even though the BMC's ability to maintain export parity prices is expected to come under severe pressure.
Fischer said although the value chain had stopped working, it was reparable through rigorous application of principles to strategy and policy. Fischer said the Beef Value Chain Study, launched on Friday, would provide a solid dataset for the implementation of appropriate policies and strategies.
"The objective is to use the information derived from the study to create an accurate comprehensive database for the development of rational, holistic and market-driven commodity specific strategies and public policies. "These will drive vertical and horizontal integration to optimize time and cost efficiencies and therefore the sustainable competitive advantage of the Botswana beef value chain as a whole," he said.