Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and Botswana Agricultural Msrketing Board (BAMB) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will benefit both small scale and commercial farmers.
The arrangement makes it possible for BAMB to negotiate for big discounts from input manufacturers. It will also divert the money that has been channelled straight to South African input distributors to now circulate within the country.
Speaking at the signing, CEDA chief executive officer, Thabo Thamane said the two entities decided to join hands upon realising the hardships that farmers go through due to the persistent unfavourable weather conditions, amongst other challenges.
“CEDA and BAMB came together to find ways in which we can assist farmers to adapt to these changes. We have engaged in consultations with farmers starting with those in the Pandamatenga area and most recently the Mosi-Sedibeng block to help identify the problems farmers face and how they as stakeholders we can assist the farmers,” he said.
According to Thamane, the unfavourable weather conditions badly affected commercial farmers as they got less than the expected yield. Farmers practicing commercial agriculture, who procure loans from entities like CEDA end up defaulting payments toward their loans.
However, the CEO said CEDA has tasked itself with finding ways to help farmers give out expected produce in order to reduce the risks of defaulting on loans.
“This year alone, we procured just over 30,000 metric tonnes of sorghum- a very bad year,” the Botswana Agricultural Marketing
Morakaladi believed the partnership and collaboration can cushion production costs for the farmers and elevate production in the country.
He said with their initiative to find new markets to export locally produced grains, he foresees new business ventures developed where now CEDA will be funding grain traders, and transport and logistics companies.
“The signing of this MoU is set to enable BAMB to negotiate for big discounts from input manufactures, I see this agreement dovetailing as we are at a space where Botswana needs to ascertain food security. For many years Botswana has been reliant on export of grain,” he said. According to Morakaladi, Padamatenga is an epitome of what good investment by CEDA and other investment arms can do for a country to realise food security.
“We procure almost all the produce that comes from Pandamatenga,” he said. Another initiative that they will be employing to combat low produce is the cluster programme, which includes the provision of inputs and technical support through training and demonstration and also the setting up of strategic collection points to reduce transportation costs for farmers.