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…. backlog reduced from P21 million to P1.4million
Ngamiland farmers have had a fair share of inconveniences caused by Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) Maun abattoir’s delayed payments after selling their cattle to the plant. This would even go to the extent of some farmers receiving their payments three months late.
Answering a question in parliament on Monday, the assistant minister of Local Government and Rural Development Mabuse Pule who was holding brief for the Minister of Entrepreneurship Karabo Gare revealed that the main cause of delays in paying farmers at the Maun abattoir has been largely contributed by running costs exceeding revenue generated from the abattoir.
Ngami Member of parliament Carter Hikuama had asked the Minister of Entrepreneurship about the cause of the delayed payments to farmers by the abattoir.
In response Pule indicated that the abattoir is also currently operating at an extremely low capacity averaging about 20% of designed capacity due to low number of cattle intake.
Another factor is the fact that beef from Maun BMC abattoir sells slowly in the market due to the fact that it comes from a foot and mouth prone area. He added that the beef is sold boneless and its bulk off take locally is by secondary processing through the Lobatse canary and to produce ecco-canned products.
Because of the poor financial situation at the abattoir, Pule noted that the commission is unable to pay farmers within the 14 days’ target. He indicated that it now takes between 30 to 45 days to pay farmers in Ngamiland.
He however indicated that the Government provides a special annual funding to the abattoir as a way of financially supporting it.
“The government and BMC are working on establishing markets for Maun products to improve the payment cycle and as we speak the payment backlog has been contained, as of September 2023 the total amount owed to farmers was P21 million but that has been reduced to P1.4 million as of 4th December 2023,” Pule revealed.
He added, “Some countries have showed interest in buying beef from Botswana with some deals at an advanced stage, I believe Maun BMC will also secure a direct market from the deal.”
Pule also explained that the pace at which BMC is able to pay the outstanding balances is distracted by lack of bank accounts by some farmers. He indicated that in order to mitigate the problem they have gotten into partnerships with banks for processing of payments for those without bank accounts.
Furthermore, Pule has noted that the government feeding programme through the ministry of local government and rural development running for a period of two years utilising beef from Maun will help a long way in addressing the cash flow challenges that are affecting the payment turnaround time.
For his part Hikuama indicated that the low capacity may be due to the fact that farmers do not trust that even if they sell their cattle during an emergency they may not get the money by the stipulated time. He advised that since Ngamiland is a tourism area, the government and BMC should consider to get into an agreement to create a market of cattle sales in Ngamiland to the tourism companies across the Okavango delta.