The plant is likely to be in the Pandamatenga area, where most of the country's sunflower harvest comes from, he told members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi yesterday. Mphathi said that currently, sunflower harvest from Botswana is taken across the border to South Africa, where it is refined into cooking oil and returned to the country for use in schools and clinics.
The opening of a local plant will thus help create jobs for locals and give impetus to government's diversification drive, he said.The BAMB CEO urged dikgosi to encourage their merafe to strive for more harvest He said the organisation buys and sells between 25,000 and 35,000 metric tonnes of grains per year. This, he said amounts to only 10 percent of national demand. He said the state has storage facilities for more than 100,000 metric tonnes of grains.
In response to a question from Kgosi Masunga on how climate change will affect farming, Mphathi urged Batswana to move towards new technological advances in farming equipment."In South Africa, just across from here, the farmers receive the same amount of rain, at around the same time. They are successful because they use a new kind of ploughing harrow that digs deep into the earth. They also use new techniques to preserve moisture in the soil. There is no reason why we can't have the same success," he said.
He also urged dikgosi to encourage their merafe to put themselves together into farming cooperatives, and to sign up for contract farming with the marketing board. The board received 11, 000 metric tonnes from contract farmers in 2007/2008 while it expects 39,986 metric tonnes of sorghum, millet, maize, sunflower and beans in the year 2010/2011.
Its turnover grew from P40 million in 2006, to P209 million in 2011, Mphathi said. BAMB was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1974, as a market for local farmers and producers. Mphathi was briefing the dikgosi on the mandate of the BAMB and the challenges it is facing.