Botswana will open up its beef industry to allow farmers to export their meat directly, the minister of agricultural development and food security told parliament late on Thursday.
The state-owned Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is currently the sole entity licensed to export beef, with farmers complaining they are forced to sell to the loss-making organisation for low prices and that payment often comes late.
Minister Edwin Dikoloti said in parliament that a meat industry regulatory authority will be created in order to facilitate the liberalisation of exports.
“All processes necessary for the establishment of the regulatory are earmarked for completion by July 2020,” he said.
Like its neighbours South Africa and Namibia, Botswana is a big exporter of beef, and was the ninth largest beef exporter to the European Union in 2019, though its earnings from beef exports have dropped from $130 million in 2010 to $80 million in 2018.
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Despite government bailouts, the BMC is insolvent and is now earmarked for privatisation, with operational inefficiency, aged equipment and low output, as well as its financial problems, weighing on the country’s beef industry.
Dikoloti said a management consultancy firm would be appointed in preparation for the BMC’s privatisation and in order to assess what was required to make the organisation viable again.