The specially Elected Member of Parliament, Mephato Reatile was all a rage his week condemning the engagement of a United Kingdom (UK) company, GPS Food Group based in an Essex town called Loughton, to market the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) to the European Union (EU).
Reatile argued that the involvement of the company that acts as BMC’s distributor in the export markets has not led to any significant improvement. He noted that while Botswana, alongside Namibia, were clients of GPS and had noticed that ever since Namibia cut its service with the UK based company it had managed to penetrate the United State (US) market, which includes the Texan market. The MP emphasized that the withdrawal of Namibia from the group should have been a wakeup call for Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), to reevaluate their choice of marketer. Addressing Parliament, he expressed his opinion that the continued engagement of the services with the company was a plan to “feed others” and impoverish the locals.
Reatile asked the Permanent Secretary (PS) to MoA, Boipolelo Khumomatlhare whether he was aware that the locals are unemployed and impoverished while international companies are swimming in their cash. He urged the PS to seek ways to involve locals in the international marketing of local products, noting that the money paid to GPS is enough to empower and place a number of Batswana overseas to check and implement strategies to make sure the exports reach the market according to set standards. He insisted the PS seek better ways to distribute labor and make sure it is local empowerment centered. He emphasized that for as long as BMC and MoA make direct decisions on whom to appoint for international markets, the appointments will forever appear to be a scheme to make others rich.
In his response ,Khumotlhare noted that they as a Ministry, vow to conduct a proper evaluation that seeks to establish the weaknesses and the goodwill of the company, to ensure it was selected on merit. He said the engagement of GPS was done because it is visible within the UK and Norway Markets. He further noted that although there has been a decrease in number of individuals engaging in the international export market; there are individuals who have been strategically placed to survey the rate at which local products reach different markets.
The PS also responded on the flourishing Namibia meat market, that although they may be deemed to be doing well Namibia, registers the same quantity product and sales (quota) across markets which Botswana shares. In spite of this being the case the PS noted, the quota registry will not slow their promised plans of checking the progress and the viability of the UK based company.
According to a report conducted by the European Union (EU) in August 2016, the EU market has become too competitive for Botswana. The report highlights that the preferential status Botswana enjoyed previously has been eroded by the EU’s granting of similar provisions to competitors through a series of bilateral and multilateral agreements signed over the past few years.
The report shows that there is extensive potential new beef export markets in Sweden, Switzerland and Italy.
The report further states that it conducted preliminary research which established that the Italian market was more willing to pay “relatively high prices” for Botswana beef products. The report identified Russia as a potential market for specified and targeted BMC beef cuts. Hong Kong and Taiwan were seen as potential markets for “premium cuts”.
Furthermore, the Report stated that Botswana should seek new markets because its traditional position as the preferred beef supplier to the EU had been undercut by the ever-increasing cost of the business arising from the EU’s stringent requirements for animal health and food safety.