BY CEDRIC SWANKA
The Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) has said that it is confident about food supply and security during the current ploughing year. The board says the supply will not be affected by the prolonged shortage of rainfall in the country.
Chief Executive Officer – Leonard Morakaladi said this past week that while it is true the country is experiencing a drought this year BAMB can assure Batswana grain reserves will not run out.
“Maize production in the country is struggling in the sun, we are mindful to the challenges due to drought and Government is currently aware to the need to replenish grain reserves,” Morakaladi said.
Grain purchases for the current financial year`s harvest season were valued at one hundred twenty million nine hundred nineteen thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight Pula sixty four thebe (P120 919 868.64). All of which the BAMB chief said were procured locally.
In terms of the status of the country stockholdings, Morakaladi said that the current stock levels of grains held by BAMB comprise of forty eight thousand metric tonnes (48000mt) of sorghum. They also comprise of white maize at one thousand five hundred metric tonnes (1,500mt), pulses being your beans, peas at two thousand metric tonnes (2000mt).
“The current stock levels can sustain the country up to the start of the new harvest in July 2019,” Morakaladi said.
BAMB is contracted by Government to manage its Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) for national foo security purposes. BAMB has been managing and maintaining the SGR for more than twenty years.
BAMB said that SGR targets in order that ensure that Botswana has enough food. “The SGR maximum stock level should be seventy metric tonnes (70,000mt) comprising of sorghum at thirty thousand metric tonnes (30,000mt), maize with another thirty thousand metric tonnes (30,000mt) and cowpeas at ten thousand metric tonnes (10,000mt)”, Morakaladi said.
However the current maximum SGR is not meeting its set targets as the Morakaladi said “of the total grain stocks thirty thousand tonnes (30,000t) is sorghum, two thousand tonnes (2000t) is pulses while maize is at zero. Maize needs to be replenished to full capacity being thirty thousand tonnes (30,000t) or at least at minimum levels of ten thousand tonnes (10,000t).”
Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board is mandated to provide a market for locally grown scheduled crops and ensure that adequate supplies exist for sale to consumers at affordable prices.
Morakaladi said, “BAMB is aims to provide a market for farmers experiencing a drought. In the face of the drought currently being experienced we are tracking the developments and we want to expose farmers to better methods of production.”
“There are some Government initiatives to ensure that farmers are able to produce and do not depend solely on rainfall. These include the Lekgotla dam irrigation system, cluster farming to be piloted in the next financial year will ensure farmers are motivated to produce more,” Morakaladi said.
As the BAMB they have been successful in getting Government to cease the import of certain agriculture based products, so as to empower local farmers and increase demand of local products. Morakaladi said”We took steps to ensure that boarders were closed for the import of grains and finished products in order to stimulate local consumption.”