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Horticultural market mothballed

The Botswana Horticultural Market (BHM) has seized operations after it failed to achieve its objectives while its financial performance was sluggish.

According to the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security’s chief information and public relations officer, Boikhutso Rabasha, the board of BHM has taken the decision to mothball the operations of the market, following its unsatisfactory performance.

“The market is not performing according to the objective originally set for the market. The closure would allow the Board to come up with a new strategy to benefit the stakeholders especially farmers,” she said. Three months ago, government gave up in its last attempt to save the troubled BHM as the Ministry decided to stop paying rentals for the market. The government has been paying rentals for BHM’s warehouse at Broadhurst since its inception in 2008 through a grant.

Initially, government was supposed to inject P10.5 million with the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) contributing P9.5 million, while the remaining P30 million was to be sourced from financiers through loans. The government delivered the P10.5 million it was supposed to inject, which was used to upgrade infrastructure and pay rentals for the warehouse.

Last year they pumped an additional P2 million into BHM, a move

that diluted BDC’s shares from 49% to 26%.

On government’s efforts to help revive the horticultural sector, Rabasha said the ministry recently took a decision to restrict the importation of produce following an assessment by extension staff.

The restriction included carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, lettuce and beetroot. She said the current production of the aforementioned crops is standing a 6,720 tonnes whilst the national demand is at 90,000 metric tonnes per annum.

While Botswana is self sufficient in beef, broiler meat and eggs, most of the other agricultural products are imported mainly from South Africa. Domestic maize production for 2016/17 stood at 8,812 tonnes, which falls far short of consumption needs of 300,000 tonnes of cereals, and virtually all maize used for poultry and pig feeding is imported.

According to the Ministry, the scale of imports demonstrates that demand exists, calling for the stimulation of a vibrant private agribusiness sector to service it.

 “These food imports represent a diverse set of markets both in key commodities as well as processed goods and associated industries worth more than P1.4 billion,” she said.




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