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Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) is in need of some P96 million for the construction of extra storage facilities to cater for increasing supply of grain in Botswana, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Leonard Morakaladi has said.
The BAMB boss was responding to a media question at a briefing held last Friday. Morakaladi said as it stands, BAMB does not have enough storage facilities to cater for more grain should production grow beyond the current capacity. The strategic grain reserves (SGR) managed by BAMB maintain 30 000 tonnes of sorghum, 30 000 tonnes of maize and 10 000 tonnes of beans. The quantities stipulated are as contracted by Government of Botswana for SGR. However, the government together with BAMB have been in partnerships with farmers on a quest to increase grain production in Botswana. Morakaladi said government is opening up more grain production areas especially in the Dukwi and Tuli block areas, where commercial farms are currently being established.
“This will definitely lead to an increase in production,” he said, further adding that the board has also been incentivizing small subsistence farmers to increase their produce. BAMB procures 80 percent of its stock from Pandamatenga and Mosisedi commercial farmers, while 20 percent is acquired from small farmers across the country.
It will be contracting subsistence farmers across the country to produce more grain, while guaranteeing to buy all their produce. Further, Morakaladi said in most cases, some small farmers produce less because they lack resources for machinery, chemicals, fertilizers which can lead to increased production. BAMB he said, will be incurring input costs for such resources in their agreement with the small farmers. The input costs however will be deducted when the farmers sell to BAMB. This according to Morakaladi is a way of motivating small farmers to grow. The increase in production will need extra storage facilities. Morakaladi said P96 million is needed to construct storage silos in Dukwi, Pandamatenga and Mokome. “We are currently speaking to Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to see how the storages can be financed.
For the past few years government had given a P700 subsidy on the sale of cowpeas, as a way to motivate farmers to produce cowpeas more. This meant that the price of cowpeas per 50kg bag at BAMB almost doubled, which led to more farmers producing cowpeas. According to Melitah Seago, interim head of production, BAMB currently has got more than enough cowpeas and is even in the process of exporting some of the cowpeas.
Currently, there is 2000 metric tonnes (mt) of cowpeas at the SGRs. Seago said BAMB is expecting an extra 7500mt in cowpeas from the 2018 production. Government consumes about 7000mt of cowpeas through the schools feeding programme, the remainder according to Seago will be exported to markets like India, Dubai and Mozambique.
Further, the SGRs have 30 000 mt of sorghum while maize is below capacity. BAMB is expecting a production of 35000mt of red sorghum from local farmers as well as 12000mt of maize.
Botswana is self-sufficient in sorghum production and cowpeas, but still lags behind when it comes to maize production. Maize domestic demand is 190 000 mt, but local farmers produce around 20 000 mt, which means Botswana imports 160 000 mt of maize annually, mostly from South Africa.