MPs push gov’t to probe Seed-Co
- Ministry claims ignorance on company monopoly and inflated prices
- Close to P200M spent on crop seeds since 2012
Members of Parliament (MPs) last week pushed government to investigate Seed-Co, a leading producer and marketer of crop seeds in Southern Africa, for inflating prices and being monopolistic.
According to Gaborone North MP, Haskins Nkaigwa, the company which supplies local dealers and Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) inflates prices when selling to government, saying for instance that it charges P650 for a bag of maize that normally goes for P200. He also said as the major supplier of seeds in the country, a situation where Seed-Co was both producer and supplier constituted monopoly, a situation he asked the Ministry of Agricultural Development if it was aware of.
Assistant Minister Kgotla Autlwetse was however unable to shed light on the matter saying they, at the agriculture ministry, were not aware of complaints made by MPs. “As a ministry, we were not aware of these issues but we will open an investigation in to the matter and appropriate action will be taken against the company if Seed-Co is found guilty of inflating prices when selling to government,” he promised them.
He also said he was unaware of the alleged Seed-Co monopoly, explaining that the market was open to all seed companies provided they are registered in Botswana. “It is worth noting that seed dealers and individual farmers have the right of choice to buy stock from any seed company or supplier of their preference,” explained Autlwetse.
It was also revealed in parliament that close to P200 million was spent in buying seeds for the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) during the past five (years) cropping seasons.