Sunday, May 16, 2021

Local millers say can fill void as maize shortages loom

Local millers have promised consumers that they will meet the domestic demandÔÇöallaying fears that problems in South Africa might affect Botswana as a big trading partner.

Available data shows that Botswana maize millers rely on South Africa for up to 95 percent of their maize which constitutes about 30 percent of what South Africa exports in white maize to African countries. As a major player in the region, the giant neighbor exports white maize to Botswana and other countries like Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

However, because of poor harvest that yielded 30percent less crops than the previous year, South Africa has started importing yellow maize from countries like Argentina and the Ukraine. Chairman of Maize and Wheat Millers Association of Botswana, Nkosi Mwaba said Botswana is experiencing a drought season of its own as well as the local crop has taken considerable strain.

He said local millers have committed to taking up the local crop through BAMB, but admitted that there is a lot less maize available which is sold to the millers at a premium to South African maize.

“We would like to assure the consumer however, that Botswana will not run out of maize products. Maize will be sourced and production will continue as necessary in order to meet local demand,” Mwaba promised.

“We have an obligation as millers to ensure that we supply enough maize products throughout Botswana and we will certainly meet this commitment to the market.”

Mwaba bemoaned that it is unfortunate however, that we are seeing major players in the retail and wholesale market importing maize meal at what we view as dumped prices.

“Although this may temporarily be seen to benefit the consumer, the predatory nature of this practice if allowed to continue, will have a detrimental long term effect on the milling industry and the market will be subjected to even higher than normal prices in the future. The Botswana Millers Association has begun a process of addressing this concern.”

The local millers have in the past raised concern that drought in the region could result in a spike in food prices due to shortages. Mwaba added that it is difficult to predict the price of white maize for the year ahead as maize prices are driven by the Safex Futures exchange in South Africa and further exposed to a host of other international market forces.

“Under the prevailing market and weather conditions it is however safe to predict that there will be an above inflationary increase in the cost of maize products in the foreseeable future.”

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