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Narrow escape for Zone 11 beef producers

Bufflo Story Pic

Beef producers in the Zone 11 area (Kgatleng, Kweneng, Southern and South East Districts) have narrowly escaped the collapse of their industry after the recent lifting of the ban on the movement of cloven hoofed animals and their products in Zone 11. The ban was lifted following the negative outcome of the tests on a buffalo found at Moreane crush in the Letlhakane East Extension area.

The ban on livestock movement into, out of and within Zone 11 sent waves of anxiety among stakeholders within the area as the move saw the cessation of beef related business activity. As the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) threat hovered over the area, the fate of reportedly 20 000 farmers in Zone 11 who produce 700 000 cattle, which  the Permanent Secretary in the agriculture ministry, Boipelo Khumomatlhare described as “the heart of our EU export zone” cattle hung in balance.

The Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) was also dealt a heavy blow with exports to the European Union (EU) and other trading partners having been suspended. Reportedly, about 41 percent of the total BMC revenue in 2013 came from the EU market which is about 16 to 17 percent of the parastatal’s stock. Currently BMC slaughters 600 cattle a day (about 3000 a week) and procures 80 percent of their stock from small scale farmers. With these statistics, there is no telling as to the amount of damage that a positive FMD case would have done to the to farmers who supply their cattle to BMC.

Meanwhile feedlots and retailers were not been spared either.

“We have not been receiving cattle since the ban as I am speaking right now the abattoir is closed. Although we have not really quantified the amount of money lost through this ban as we need time to really see the how much the loss has been made it is going to have a huge impact on the business,” said Venkat Rahman of Senn Foods just after the ban was announced.

The recent lifting of the suspension of livestock movement and their related products by the ministry of agriculture means that slaughter facilities are now allowed to kill cloven hoofed animals and business returned to normal.

The search for the dreaded buffaloes in the Zone 11 area has also been called off.

“The possibility of any buffalo has been called off following the extensive ground and aerial search that ruled out any presence of buffaloes in Zone 11,” the agriculture ministry said in a recent press release. FMB


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