Following a struggle that lasted for close to two years, the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) has finally found a replacement of its former General Manager, Masego Mphathi.
Sunday Standard has been informed that the BAMB board has named the former Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Edison Wotho as the new Chief Executive of the grain procuring board. As a deputy PS in Agriculture Ministry, Wotho was responsible for the Crop production sub sector.
Following the departure of Mphathi, the BAMB Board then appointed Elvis Ncaagae as the Acting Chief Executive Officer. Ncaagae’s substantive position is Finance Manager and has been with the BAMB for the past 11 years.
The former BAMB CEO, Masego Mphathi’s contract came to an end in December 2012. Sunday Standard understands that Mphathi was forced to resign because he had reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 years. In previous queries by this publication regarding the just filled position, the board could not say why it is took a long time to identify the right candidate, but confirmed that a local consulting firm was tasked to recruit, assess and recommend to the Board a potential successor for Mphathi.
With up to 80 percent of Botswana’s annual import bill comprising of food products, Wotho is expected to oversee BAMB’s efforts being to reverse the decline of the agricultural sector over the years and make Botswana self-sufficient in food production. Botswana remains a net importer of consumables despite millions of Pula spent on subsidies trying to improve farming.
The agriculture sector has become more significant on the domestic economy than in the past few years, but remains far from being the biggest contributor to the nation’s GDP. The sector is currently contributing a paltry two percent of the GDP.
The board earlier this year expressed its optimism that it will realize a good harvest this season due to good rains received across the country. Atleast 40 000 metric tonnes of sorghum is expected to be bought from local farmers though the Contract Farming Scheme.
Through this scheme, BAMB identifies a market for a particular crop and contracts farmers to produce and supply it with crops such as maize, sorghum, cowpeas or beans at agreed prices before planting.
Marketing and Communications Officer at BAMB, Lerato Kwelagobe said in Kasane earlier this year that the scheme can be beneficial to farmers as it helps to reduce farmers’ exposure to price risks due to price fluctuations dictated by market conditions. She urged farmers to commercialize their arable farming operations so that they can benefit from this scheme.