Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Botswana bans importation of fertilisers

In a move that is expected to infuriate South African producers even further, Botswana has imposed a ban on the importation of fertilisers.

The latest development comes a few months after Botswana banned importation of vegetable products.

The move is expected to escalate a war of words between South African authorities who recently took Botswana to task following its decision to impose the ban on some vegetable commodities as unilateral and violating SACU agreements.

Reports indicate that South African producers had been benefitting immensely from Botswana’s inability to produce enough vegetables and fruits to satisfy the local demand.

According to the new Output-based Integrated Support Programme for Arable Development (ISPAAD) for the 2022-2023 cropping season to be rolled out by the Ministry of Agriculture, a number of measures would be implemented towards “supporting locally manufactured fertilisers.”

According to the new guidelines and controls for the 2022/2023 cropping season restrictions shall be implemented on importation of fertilisers that are locally produced.

The ministry has also revealed that it would; “Close borders for importation of organic fertilisers.”

The ministry also recommends the use of fertilisers on the basis of deficiencies or requirements of the soil condition.

The document states that; “Organic fertilizers to be used in areas characterized by sandy soils to improve the soil texture. Only organic fertilizers to be used in the fields along the river banks and Molapo farming to guard against pollution of the river.”

The document says raw materials necessary for production of blended fertilisers will be imported in the case where they are not locally available.

“Readily packaged fertilisers from outside the country will not be imported in a case where there is capacity to produce them locally,” reads the document in part. It says the Ministry of Agriculture “will facilitate local fertiliser producers to adhere to relevant BOBS standards.”

The ploughing season is expected to commence sometime in October this year and the programme is expected to be rolled out soon.

The document explains that ISPAAD was introduced to cater for a wide range of farmer categories such as subsistence, emerging and commercial farmers. It says the transition period has been extended to 2022/2023 ploughing season. “Only farmers who have registered up to 31st October 2022 will be eligible for assistance during the 2022/3 ploughing season. This means farmers who have not yet registered must go and register,” the document says. The individual, group and cluster fencing component of arable areas and construction of new agricultural service centres remain suspended.

“Famers who have tested their soils will be assisted with fertilizers on basis of soils analysis results and accredited and credible laboratories should be used for soil testing,” the document says.

Fertilizers will be provided to farmers who have not tested their soils at a subsidy of two bags per hectare for a maximum of four hectares. Emerging farmers will be assisted with a subsidy on the cost of seed, fertilizer and herbicides for a maximum of 150 hectares, commercial farmers will be assisted with a 30 percent subsidy on the cost of seeds, fertilizers and herbicides for a maximum of 500 hectares and the ministry says the programme will be implemented under the same guidelines and controls for the last time this ploughing season.

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