Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) is currently in negotiations with commodity importers to export Botswana’s cowpeas to the United Arab Emirates.
The newly appointed BAMB Chief Executive Officer Leonard Morakaladi has spoken with much confidence that the quality produced in Botswana gives it much potential to export.
“We are in conversations with commodity traders in those countries, looking at the likes of India amongst others. The next ploughing season, we want to sign back to back agreements with the off-takers. This will track traction, we do not want to put stock in our silos.”
BAMB which is a net importer of maize has previously exported other produce to Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. The last time the Board imported sorghum was over three years ago, but currently Botswana is able to produce enough sorghum, cowpeas, and beans for itself.
During the 2016/2017 harvesting season, a total of 39,657 Mt of grains were purchased. Production of pulses has been growing over the past four ploughing seasons. The Botswana government subsidy on production of beans has contributed positively to this beans exponential growth over the past four years.
BAMB has commercial stock in place for sorghum and cowpeas currently and is receiving the new stock.
The Storage Grain Reserve is sitting at 30 000tonnes of sorghum, maize has run down, while maize has 2000tonnes. For the 2017/18 ploughing harvest season, the Board is expecting 35 000 tonnes of sorghum, 7000 tonnes cowpeas and 12 000tonnes of maize which will still be on a shortfall.
BAMB which started buying the 2017/18 produce last month (May), should have a clear picture of how much would have received by end of August 2018.
It shall purchase produce from farmers between the months of June and September 2018. It is however, reviewing its buying window to align with production patterns as influenced by changing global weather patterns. It indicated that it will buy produce from local farmers only.
Producer prices are set every month and these prices are publicized.
Purchasing of all crops will be grade 1 and grade 2, except for cowpea which is strictly only grade 1. Morakaladi said in addition,“we are also reviewing this to see how best we can cater for lower grades that can be used for other purposes like livestock feed amongst others.”
Meanwhile, the CEO highlighted on the challenge of limited silos, which he disclosed that they would engage in a project that would cost the Board P96million to increase its capacity. “Storage is a big component. We are talking to the Special Economic Zones team to see how we can best work around it.”