BY PORTIA NKANI
Narrow sales margins recorded by the Botswana Agriculture Marketing Board (BAMB) during the 2017/18 financial year have resulted in less revenue, the board has said.
While the 2017/18 financial year marks 44 years of BAMB’s existence is also saw the Board recording a decline in its fortunes.
The board’s operational revenues dropped by 29 percent from P400 million in 2016/17 to P286million in 2018.
BAMB Chairperson – Dr Gloria Somolekae said the revenue decline is attributable to a few factor chief amongst which is that during the reporting period the Board did not enjoy bumper sales of feeds through the Government drought subsidy, as it was the case in the previous year.
Another attribute is to the sorghum sales that also declined compared to the previous year as most major food millers had sourced grain directly from farmers to satisfy their set quota of 50 percent local purchase on Sorghum and 30 percent on Maize.
This therefore, she said “left BAMB with very limited scope to sell as the millers then resorted to imported grain while the Board had stock to sell. Furthermore, the Board experienced a decline in profit as compared to the year ended March 2017 recording a loss of P65.4 million in March 2018.”
Another challenge the Board faced emanated from slow and delayed receivables by its major debtors. This had a very negative impact on BAMB’s cash flow and related changes by lending institutions.
With up to 80 percent of Botswana’s annual import bill comprising of food products, Somolokae and her board is expected to oversee BAMB’s efforts to reverse the decline of the agricultural sector and make Botswana self-sufficient in food production. Botswana remains a net importer of consumables despite millions of Pula spent on subsidies trying to improve farming.
The agriculture sector has become more significant on the domestic economy over the past few years, but remains far from being a major contributor to the national GDP, with a paltry contribution of two percent. Another state owned enterprise – National Development Bank (NDB) has so far spent millions of Pulas financing farming projects.