The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the North East region has led to shortage of beef leading to a nightmare for small business owners who sell beef products.
Several businesses that trade in beef products have since been forced to be creative and find alternatives, while others have gone to the extent of closing shop.
For one Francistown resident and small business owner, Gaothobogwe Simon, it was not all doom and gloom as he found a gap in the market as a result of the beef crisis and started selling donkey meat.
The reception to his business has been very good because he can make around P700 a day from donkey meat sales.
“I normally sell donkey biltong, which is so far the most popular. My elderly customers have also complimented my donkey meat business highlighting that donkey meat has medicinal properties that have helped restore their painful joints,” he said.
Other food vendors in other satellite villages of the city have also resorted to selling donkey meat in place of beef with especially the elderly appreciating the delicacy for its health benefits and low prices.
In another corner of the city is Mokobeng.com tuckshop, which is famous for selling beef stew, mogodu, beef liver stew and seswaa (pounded meat). Nellia Nfanyana, the proprietor says the tuckshop is now feeling the effects of restricted movements of cattle.
The shortage of beef in Francistown has forced her to change her menu. Since the outbreak of FMD in the region she now sells mainly beans and beef bones to her customers.
“Foot and Mouth Disease has negatively impacted my business. I do not sell my food like I used to and this has led to customers complaining. I no longer offer a variety of food choices.
“I am now forced to compromise and sell cooked beans, mapakiwa and fat cakes,” she told The Midweek Sun.
Nfanyana has also noticed that prices for beef products have been hiked.
“I am pleading with the government to tackle the foot and mouth disease crisis. We are from the Covid-19 crisis, which also impacted our businesses and now we are faced with this monster called Foot and Mouth Disease.
The government should check shops which hike beef prices because we are also affected by the beef shortage crisis,” she said.
Shane Chawilane, a small business operator selling Mokwetjepe and free papa says since the outbreak of FMD, prices of beef in butcheries have increased. He has temporarily stopped trading because he was always making losses.
“I plan on selling chicken stew very soon since chicken is much cheaper to buy compared to beef. The only challenge is that every household and street in Block 1 sells chicken stew,” he said.