The Midweek Sun
Bill to regulate Meat Industry comes to Parliament
The Ministry of Agriculture intends to introduce a new body that will regulate the meat industry whose Bill will be presented to Parliament in the next sitting.
The Meat industry Regulatory Authority (MIRA) aims to ensure that the livestock and meat industry is profitable and sustainable, by promoting not only high standards of food industry regulation, but also innovation, research and development.
MIRA Bill proposes regulation of the sale of livestock, import and export of livestock, operations of livestock transporters, abattoirs and meat establishments, meat inspection, product grading, marking of livestock products as well as packaging.
Over the years, the regulation of livestock and the meat sector in Botswana has been done by the government through Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and the Department of Veterinary Services.
Speaking at a recent hybrid consultative meeting in Gaborone, Minister of Agriculture Fidelis Molao revealed that Botswana has experienced a decline in the performance of livestock and meat sector, which has partly been attributable to lack of policy reform, to enable the industry to keep up with the emerging issues such as global meat market trends and sensitivities.
“There has been monopoly in the export of beef and beef products that has been accorded to BMC. This development has no doubt deprived livestock subsector of the necessary competition, efficiencies, productivity and other benefits associated with a free market system,” Molao said.
He also said the uncertain and unpredictable business environment within the subsector is generally blamed for discouraging meaningful investments in infrastructure and innovations in the livestock sector value chains.
Molao added that his Ministry has embarked on an extensive programme to improve the generic merit of the country’s national herd, such as importing semen of high quality genetics, including sexed semen.
“It is also for this reason, that the government recently decided to import high quality live cattle from Texas, in the United States of America, the decision is to ultimately generate our own semen instead of continuing to import at high costs,” he said.
Molao hinted that MIRA will require seed capital from Government and will also finance its operations from licensing fees and from the cattle export and slaughter levy. He is hopeful, that over time, other forms of revenue generation will be identified by the governing board and management of the authority.