17 December 2018


Bokone Bophirima confirms its commitment to new China trade


Semphete Correspondent


16 September 2016

Bokone Bophirima is a step closer to becoming the donkey-breeding province of the country, a unique farming experience that will see the province supplying donkey by-products to China.

A delegation of Bokone Bophirima Executive Council (Exco) returned to China this week to cement ties with the country, in a move that will see the province benefiting in trade terms for different industries.

Premier Supra Mahumapelo is leading a delegation that comprises of MEC for Finance, Economy and Enterprise Development (FEED) Wendy Nelson and her counterpart in Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) Manketsi Tlhape, as well as experts in different fields that Bokone Bophirima is interested in exchanging trade in.

During their weeklong visit that ends on Sunday 18 September, the Bokone Bophirima delegation visited a donkey factory and breeding farm known as Dong-E-E-Jiao Ltd in Beijing. This factory alone has got over 400 000 donkeys and employs 5100 people. The total net asset value for Dong-E-E-Jiao is $1.2 Billion and the company's sales turnover for 2015 was $8.6 Billion.

Part of the discussions at Dong-E-E-Jiao included the possibility of Bokone Bophirima breeding donkeys and establishing an abattoir in the province to supply the Chinese market. In addition to the meat, China is also interested in donkey skin, which is used to manufacture beauty products and medicine. The country also makes use of hooves for different products.

It is envisaged that if Bokone Bophirima establishes a donkey-breeding farm and an abattoir, these investments would be self-sustainable within two years because of the high demand of donkey products in China.

Last year China Daily USA reported that the country was running short of donkey supply, a move that saw Dong-E-E-Jiao Ltd looking beyond the East Asian country's borders for donkeys. Because of the belief that donkey hide gelatin - what is known as ejiao in China - improves blood circulation and boosts energy levels, the supply of donkey hide gelatin products has started falling short of demand. This was even worsened by a lack of interest by Chinese farmers to breed donkeys like they did before. Statistics in that country show that the number of donkeys raised by local farmers dropped to 6.36 million at the end of 2012, compared to 9.44 million in 1996 and nearly 13 million in the mid-1950s.

After two meetings with the Chinese delegation - one in Mahikeng last year and another one in China early this year - Bokone Bophirima and the Chinese have this time concretised the process that will benefit many rural communities of the province. Bokone Bophirima is largely rural and has got a large concentration of home bred animals, including donkeys that until now, were not known to carry much monetary value.

Premier Mahumapelo said this is likely to change soon.
"Parties agreed on a process that must comply with the laws of both countries. China breeds and imports donkeys for use in many things, which include medicinal purposes," he told Semphete this week.

Such a trade partnership would "go a long way in assisting the province to deal with its economic challenges through the Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSD) economic development initiative," the Premier said.

Bokone Bophirima provincial government spokesperson, Brian Setswambung, said the return trip to China was meant to "explore further investment opportunities and to confirm the provincial government's commitment to the already proposed deals".

Premier Mahumapelo and the same MECs visited China early this year, though that trip was a short one and used more as a fact-finding mission.
"This second official trip to China is part of strengthening the existing trade and investment relations with BRICS countries, and serve as a great platform for the province to learn best practices in dealing with especially housing challenges and ICT [information and communication technology] issues," Setswambung said.

The Bokone Bophirima delegation also visited the headquarters of Huawei Technologies in Shanghai. Huawei is one of the leading global ICT solutions provider and in South Africa it's known for providing internet connection gadgets like 3G cards and Wifi modems, as well as cellphones. Huawei's customer database boasts top South African telecommunication companies such as Telkom, MTN, Vodacom and Cell C.

This week's Chinese visit by Bokone Bophirima delegation also looked into exchanging skills for the construction of a power station and the establishment of a bus manufacturing plant in the province.