SCARCE AND PRICEY MEAT

Date:

  • ‘Buy at our rates, or we will only sell to BMC’
  • Beef market hit by severe shortage owing to decreased supply
  • Farmers reject low buying prices, and set their own rates
  • Prices subsequently driven high
  • Some butcheries forced to close shop

While the price of beef in Maun and the district in general has traditionally been known to be cheaper than other zones across the country, the market has of recent been hit by severe shortage owing to decreased supply which has subsequently driven prices high.

This has affected consumers, while some butcheries have been forced to close shop as they cannot cope with the demand. Ngamiland is a foot and mouth zone, and markets for the cattle has been a challenge, something which has kept the buying price low. This has changed as, farmers reject low buying prices, and set their own rates.

The shortage and the expensive meat has led to some butcheries closing shop, while some    small businesses, especially restaurants and road side vendors who rely on meat for their businesses have seriously been affected.

In an interview, an employee at Mabudutsa VDC Butchery noted that they have been experiencing a sharp decline in cattle supply since the end of September, something that is common around this time of the year.  He is of the view that cattle farmers are faced with harsh drought conditions and cannot meet the demand by butcheries due to the low quality beef.

He added that some farmers have resorted to selling their cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) where they get better prices compared to butcheries.

Another butchery has also opined that the situation is caused by the fact that beef inspection regulations have been intensified. She lamented that the issue of low cattle supply in butcheries has negatively affected them because they are now operating at a loss though they incur rental and salary costs.

One of the meat street vendors operating in Maun old mall also concurred that they have been experiencing shortage of meat since mid-October noting that currently the buying price of beef is very high, and customers are finding it difficult to afford the meat. 

Meanwhile, Ngamiland Agricultural Association Treasurer, Charles Madise revealed that the situation is a result of very low buying prices by local butcheries. He indicated that most of the butcheries buy cattle at prices ranging from P20/KG-P25KG which cannot sustain farmers.

Madise stated that they have agreed that farmers should be the ones setting the buying price for their cattle, and not the other way round. Farmers, he said, have since come up with P28/kg buying tag.

He cited countries like South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe where beef farmers thrive, because they control the buying price and have agreed on certain prices that can sustain them. Madise said local butcheries want to buy cattle at lower prices, so that they make extra profit in their businesses.

He admitted that they are currently selling their cattle to BMC because the prices are reasonable. Madise has however denied that farmers are currently experiencing drought but stressed that their only reason was to control the buying price of cattle.  Madise said the intention is to encourage other farmers to value their cattle hence they have agreed on the buying price that can sustain them.

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