President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said the purchasing of 162 breeding cattle from Texas, USA is in line with government’s Reset Agenda of reviving the livestock sub-sector and ensuring value chain development within the sector.
Masisi yesterday received the cattle which consist of 141 bulls and 21 heifers of elite animal genetics that will be used in the production of germplasm in the form of embryos and semen for both local and export market.
Masisi emphasised that one of the reasons for the procurement of the cattle was to make sure that they produce good and quality genetics for the country to sell back to the European markets as well as to produce quality meat for the market.
Masisi added that the cattle will also contribute towards the national goal of increasing the national herd and its genetic merit.
As per Statistics Botswana, Masisi noted that despite the significance of the livestock sub- sector in Botswana, the national herd has continuously been on the decline path from 3 million cattle in 1979, 2.1 million in 2004 to 1.7 million in 2015. He said the livestock sub-sector remains the mainstay for rural livelihoods as it contributes to income generation, employment and food security.
“Today we are here to confirm our promise as government that we have invested P25 million in procuring these live breeding cattle from the worlds’ renowned breeders,” he said.
Masisi indicated that out of the 162, they have 106 white Brahman bulls, 21 white Brahman heifers, 4 red Brahman bulls, 2 black Angus and 2 red Angus bulls; 5 Charolais bulls and 5 Brangus bulls as well as 10 Beef master bulls while the Santa Gertrudis bulls were seven (7).
He said the arrival of the cattle will complement the envisaged upgrading of the Ramatlabama National Artificial Insemination Laboratory into a centre of excellence and an export facility.
Furthermore, he said government will also import relevant skills to ensure that the envisaged upgrading is achieved adding that the live breeding cattle initiative which forms part of the Revised AI programme will be supported with the use of best technologies and equipment for improved efficiency. In addition, Masisi promised that government will put in place a sound Herd Health Management Plan for disease surveillance and management.
“In this regard, a team of veterinarians has been assigned to manage the plan at Ramatlabama and the Revised AI programme will embrace, amongst others, mandatory testing of reproductive diseases,” he added.
Besides the Revised AI Programme, Masisi said government has come up with other robust interventions towards increasing the national herd through the development of the Beef and smallstock cluster strategies adding that the Meat Industry Regulatory Authority Bill (MIRAB) has been drafted while the fodder production strategy is being developed.