Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security is planning to strengthen laws that govern regulations of slaughter and rearing of donkeys.
The ministry’s Legal Counsel Thamsanqa Silitshena revealed this week that they have discovered that little has been done in regulating the keeping and slaughtering of donkeys. He said a Pitso would be held by the end of this month to engage stakeholders on the matter. Silitshena stated that the Pitso would be spread out around the country.
“We would sit down with stakeholders and see where we can strengthen laws governing slaughter and rearing of donkeys. As you may realise a donkey has not been identified as part of livestock. So now we have to have the donkey being in the same category as cows and be regarded as livestock,” he said.
Silitshena, who was speaking during a Press conference on welfare of donkeys, said they want to ensure that the trade on donkeys and their products is monitored closely. He explained that they are hopeful that the public and business community would adhere to the regulations.
He said the Pitso would also be a platform to sensitise the public and business community about the importance of donkeys with regards to food security. Government through the Agricultural ministry has indefinitely suspended the export licences for donkeys and their products.
Assistant minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Kgotla Autlwetse stated that in developing countries including Botswana, working animals such as donkeys play important roles in numerous sectors, especially agriculture and the transport of goods and people.
“The global demand for products of donkeys has escalated rapidly, with a particular interest in products from donkey hides. The donkey hide trade to the lesser extent associated meat trade is related to both animal and human welfare,” said the minister. Donkeys provide both direct and indirect incomes to rural households and therefore make an important contribution to families’ access to food and services.
The minister said the role of working animals remains a neglected area in the programme of cooperation, in particular in the sectors of agriculture, gender, food security and rural development. Autlwetse revealed that in China the hides are boiled to extract a gel for medicinal purposes.
He stated that currently there are two licensed slaughter facilities to export donkey hides being Y2K (Pty) in Gantsi and Ma Di in Lobatse, whereas Develop Advanced Institute in Lentsweletau and Bo Change (Pty) Ltd in Francistown are licensed to slaughter donkeys for meat. He said Red Lotters in Mochudi are licensed as donkey hide collectors.
“Realising that the donkey population is decreasing at an alarming rate, this threatens food security and nutrition security of the rural dwellers. The welfare of donkeys is compromised and this causes concern,” he stated. He pointed out that currently the ministry does not have data as to which district in the country is mostly affected by the decrease.