Saturday, June 15, 2024

Grain import ban: local millers hit-hard

Following a decision by the government to restrict the export and import of scheduled key grains, maize, and sorghum in May 2023, some local milling companies fear for the worst as their businesses are starting to experience grain supply challenges.

The Ministry of Entrepreneurship said at the time that all harvested maize and sorghum by government-subsidized or supported farmers must be sold to the Botswana Agriculture Marketing Board for storage, resale, redistribution, or further processing in the value chain.

As a result of the order, some millers say they have run out of supply. In a move that is meant to save their businesses, some of the millers have said that they are mulling to lobby the government to open up borders to source grains from neighboring countries.

The Managing Director of Atla sa Temo Milling company in Molepolole Ross Molaodi highlighted that it has been a struggle to find enough grains from the market adding that the situation could get worse if not addressed.

Molaodi indicated that should the situation fail to improve, most millers might look beyond the borders to keep their operations running.

“Even though it has been communicated that the situation looks dire, we remain hopeful that perhaps BAMB will resolve their issues with farmers as it was reported at some point. I have always been supportive to local grains and I remain supportive and that is why we are hoping for the very best. It is even expensive to source grains from outside because that on its own forces price adjustment on the end product,” added Molaodi.

Kagiso Ramoroki of Range Millers also shared his frustration over what appears to be a looming crisis. He said even though the looming crisis is not man-made it is only right for government to start issuing millers with licenses to import grains from neighboring countries.

“We are currently trying to observe the situation but we are planning to engage BAMB on this issue because it gets even worse. The last thing we want is seeing our operations not moving. Our government has on many occasions shown to be thoughtful, so I want to believe that as soon as we have settled on the matter we will be given a green light,” said Ramoroki. On the other hand, Keseabetswe Mmoloki also said there has been some days in which his operations had stalled due to grain supply shortage. “It appears that the ploughing season was harsh on our farmers and we have seen the extent of shortage at BAMB but they have promised to engage us on the way because they understand our plight,” said Mmoloki.

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