Botswana's meat export parastatal, the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC), has been much in the local news. Cattle suppliers have become accustomed to substantial annual producer price increases from this successful national industry, which has expanded increasingly into European markets. But at the end of 1984 it was announced that there would be no bonus paid and no price increase for 1985. This was later changed to a small 5% price increase, following producer pressure. Then followed allegations of managerial extravagance and corruption, voiced in the National Assembly, and the sudden retirement of the executive chairman.
These notes look at some of the principal issues in cattle pricing and marketing in Botswana which underlie the present concern — namely the recent performance of BMC, the proposed Francistown abattoir, the impact of the growing domestic beef market and the organization of cattle supplies to BMC. The conclusion reached is that cattle pricing is likely to be an increasingly controversial issue in the near future as BMC struggles with the two opposing goals of capacity expansion and cost reduction, and government struggles with the equally conflicting goals of retaining high producer prices while putting the cattle industry onto an increasingly cost covering basis.