Botswana Development Corporation has not made any headway in its efforts to increase local production of fresh milk, through inviting dairy farmers to go into joint venture partnerships with them. The Public Relations Officer at BDC Boitshwarelo Lebang said that to date, no additional farmers have been identified to go into joint ventures with the corporation. She said that while a lot of farmers had shown enthusiasm in the project by applying for the joint ventures, it was later established that they did not have the necessary technical skills.
However, she said, they have not yet given up on the project as they are still in negotiations with a number of potential partners. Lebang conceded that efforts to reduce dependency on South Africa for milk supply have failed and there are fears that there might be fresh milk shortages during the coming world cup. When addressing farmers in the Chobe district recently, the Assistant Minister of
Agriculture Oreeditse Molebatsi brought up the issue of milk shortage, and said that Botswana is currently only able to produce 8 million liters of fresh milk, compared to the 48 million liters that she consumes.
The majority of fresh milk is still imported from South Africa. Molebatsi expressed concern that there might be a serious shortage of milk in the country when South Africa hosts the World Cup, as they will be looking to satisfy local demand by decreasing exports.
Local dairy farmers have complained that they are not able to increase production because dairy farming is an expensive business, and that government is not according dairy farming as much financial assistance as she is giving other agricultural sectors. They accused Government of continuing assist arable farmers by paying for tractors to plough their fields and giving them free seeds, but said they do not receive the same assistance.
They also said that they have been pleading for assistance for many years but to no avail. “The government continues to neglect us. Other farmers such as beef farmers and pastoral farmers get assistance from government amounting to millions of pula whilst we get nothing “, they said. They added that the impending milk shortage should serve as a wakeup call to government that they also need assistance.
Government has also been condemned for failing to lure displaced Zimbabwean farmers who left after the country’s land redistribution. The farmers have since set up successful farming enterprises in countries like Mozambique , Nigeria and Zambia.