The Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board Public Relations Officer, Boipuso Nyatshane, has said that, this year, Botswana is expected to import 15,000 metric tonnes of sorghum from Australia to argument what they have bought locally.
Nyatshane told the Sunday Standard that they had already imported some sorghum from Australia through a South African shipping company.
She pointed out that South Africa, not Australia, has always been the traditional market for Botswana but that this year they had been forced to look further than South Africa as they could not get enough of what they required within a reasonable time in South Africa.
In regard to the supply of maize, she said that they are hoping to import some supplies from Zambia. Zambia is slowly growing into a food basket for most countries in the region as it was recently reported that it will be exporting thousands of tonnes of maize to Zimbabwe, which used to be the region’s food basket before the disruption of the country’s agriculture sector.
On what she thinks makes the country to be unable to produce enough to feed itself, Nyatshane mentioned poor methods of ploughing, poor crop husbandry, low rainfall and some cases, as happened in Pandamatenga last year, perennial low yields.
Asked what actions they are taking to lessen dependence on importing cereals from foreign countries, some as far as Australia, Nyatshane said that, in 2007, they introduced contract farming to serve that purpose.
Under this scheme, she said that farmers are contracted to supply crops, such as maize, cowpeas or beans at agreed prices and quantities prior to planting.
She explained that this helps to minimize farmers’ exposure to price risks due to price fluctuations dictated by market conditions.
She further said that the scheme also empowers locals to commercialise their arable farming operations. She added that the scheme also offers producers 100 percent guarantee on a minimum price for produce in instances where market prices go above contract price.
In such instances, she explained that the farmer will be paid market price and that payment is made promptly upon delivery of produce, adding that the scheme will also help farmers to budget and plan their farming operations well in time.
On who qualifies for the scheme, she said it is any local farmer who produces 10 metric tonnes or more per crop.