Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Botswana’s milk supply deficit persists while cereal production meets demand

The local dairy sub sector continues to fail to meet national demand despite efforts by Government to assist existing and prospective dairy farmers. Junior Minister at the Ministry of Agriculture, Oreeditse Molebatsi on Tuesday indicated that milk production in the country still remains at lower levels and is likely to remain at those level for the next three or so years.

However in a bid to stimulate milk production in the country and improve performance of the dairy sector, Molebatsi said Government is on the verge of implementing the dairy strategy. To that effect, Government is expected to provide local farmers with sexed semen procured in the United Kingdom from September this year. The sexed semen will be administered to local cattle through artificial insemination to produce 50 percent cross breeds. At the same time, the ministry has committed to improving availability of dairy feeds to local farmers as well as improving infrastructure through the same strategy.

“This shortage presents a business opportunity for locals to take advantage and produce milk for the country. We encourage farmers to venture into diary production,” said Mr Molebatsi at a press briefing session held in Gaborone this past Tuesday.

Currently local farmers produce a mere 5 million litres per year, which is way short of the national demand of 60 million litres. The deficit of 55 million litres is imported from outside the country. On crop production, Molebatsi said that the country is set to achieve improved yields this year better than in the previous years due to favourable rains that covered vast parts of the country. A combination of drought and misguided economic policies has over the years resulted in decreased food security in the country which saw an upward trend in prices of food more especially grain. However Molebatsi said on Tuesday that currently, the nation remains generally food secure, despite the previous peak of the lean season.

“This year we are expecting a very good harvest. We did receive good rains and farmers responded well and have ploughed and planted and we are expecting a good harvest of around 200 000 metric tons,” he said.

Molebatsi’s estimates means that local production will this year meet the national demand for cereal which stands at around 200 thousands metric tons as well.

“As a result of the good harvest there should be less imports. Because of good cereal availability other agriculture enterprises which depend on cereal for success such as dairy, piggery and poultry will also be favourably impacted,” Molebatsi noted.

Government programmes such as ISPAAD are said to be helping to ameliorate acute the food insecurity in the country.

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