Small Business Development minister Chalane Phori says the ban on red meat imports is paying off for local farmers who have so far M2, 1 million from sales of their cattle to the national abattoir since April this year.
Mr Phori recently said this while addressing a joint media briefing with the Meat Traders Association of Lesotho (MTAL) in Maseru.
He said that 366 cattle were sold to the abattoir which is operated by Meraka Lesotho at an average price of M5785 per beast since April.
Mr Phori said the boon for local farmers was the result of the conscious decision that the government took in April to ban red meat imports in April this year.
The ban is structured in such a manner that only allows for the import of meat products that are not locally available.
Mr Phori also commended the farmers for the establishment of MTAL, saying the association would help the meat dealers in addressing common challenges associated with the industry.
The Managing Director of Meraka Lesotho, Mosito Khethisa, said the only imports were for livestock for Grade A meat while Grade B and C livestock were sourced from local farmers.
Mr Khethisa said the abattoir slaughtered 60 to 120 Grade A cows per week, depending on the market demand.
In all, the abattoir has the capacity to slaughter 500 cows per week.
To sell an animal, farmers are expected to bring all necessary documents including proof of ownership of the livestock. The animals are brought to the abattoir for sale every Wednesday and each animal is priced per kilogramme.
Animals that are not in a good physical condition are kept at the feedlot facility of the abattoir for fattening before being slaughtered.
For his part, the MTAL Secretary General Teboho Motšephe for the “noble initiative” of banning meat imports saying this had contributed to the growth of local farmers’ businesses.
“It was noble of the government to ban red meat imports to protect the local livestock farmers,” Mr Motšephe told the Lesotho Times, adding that the formation of the MTAL would help to address the challenges faced by players in the meat industry.
“The meat industry has many challenges but I am proud to report that ever since we established the association there is progress towards addressing those challenges.
“One of the aims of the association is to develop the meat industry and protect players from undue competition from anybody. The role played by the abattoir should be different from the one played by retailers.”
Mr Motšephe said the fact that Meraka national abattoir was a member of MTAL “made it easier to resolve issues without involving outsiders”.
The MTAL executive committee members are: Mosito Khethisa (chairperson), Nelson Vincent (deputy chairperson), Teboho Motšephe (secretary general), Limpho Posholi (deputy secretary general), Keketso Lekatsa (treasurer), Tlhoriso Lekatsa (public relations officer) and Samuel Hashatsi (advisor).