Beef price shoots up at Botswana deal ends

Beef prices here have shot up drastically following the lapsing of the deal between the Botswana government and the Cold Storage Company last month.

Most residents in Bulawayo have now resorted to chicken and dried fish due to the prohibitive price of beef.
Most residents in Bulawayo have now resorted to chicken and dried fish due to the prohibitive price of beef.

In August Botswana engaged the cash-strapped CSC to assist it in slaughtering cattle infected with foot and mouth to curb the disease from spreading from zone V1 – along the border with Zimbabwe.

The Botswana Meat Commission, which exports beef to the European Union, did not have the capacity to cull about 45 000 animals from the infected area within a certain period as per the strict requirements of the EU regulations.

Now the cattle slaughtered under that deal have finished, creating a huge shortage that local abattoirs are failing to meet.

The price of beef now ranges from $6 – $14 per kilo in butcheries and supermarkets. Before the sudden increase a kilo of the Botswana beef was pegged at $3 while the price of local economy beef was between $4 and $5 defending on the quality.

“Beef is now very expensive. With my family of five people, I need almost $100 to buy beef which can take me through the month. Most people have resorted to imported chickens and fish. The situation is now almost similar to where we were before the formation of the inclusive government,” said Obey Zisengwe of Pumula.

Another Bulawayo resident, Okay Ngulube, complained bitterly about the increases.

“Before the arrival of the Botswana cattle, the prices of beef was reasonable. This is very unfair. These private abattoirs are just out to make money. Now ordinary people can no longer afford to buy meat,” he said.

George Anderson, who owns a private abattoir in Kelvin North industrial area, defended the beef increases saying they were justified.

“There is shortage cattle on the market. The few available are selling for as much as $800 per beast. We are just passing on the costs to the consumers, otherwise we are not making any profit,” said Anderson.

Matabeleland province used to be the hub of the country’s beef industry before the chaotic land “reform” programme began in 2000.

Most of the former prime cattle producing ranches and farms were taken over by Zanu (PF) supporters and war veterans who have turned them into maize fields. Some of the occupants have returned to their rural areas after realising that the ranches were not suitable for crop farming

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