The value of food imported into the country reached P2.9 billion in the first three months of the year, up from P2.4 billion over the same period in 2021, figures released this week by Statistics Botswana indicate.
Food imports in the first quarter of this year ranged from a low of P845.7 million in January to a peak of P1.2 billion in March, compared to a low of P720.8 million in February and a peak of P881.2 million in the first quarter of last year.
The data agency's figures do not indicate whether the higher food imports for this year are as a result of inflation, which averaged 10.4% in the first three months of this year, compared to 2.7% over the same period last year.
Stats Botswana data shows that for both periods, the imports were dominated by cereals such as wheat, maize and rice, beverages, spirits and vinegar, preparations of vegetables as well as fruits and nuts.
The beverages, spirits and vinegar category includes various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks such as beer, sugar water, wines, gins and others.
The value of P2.9 billion worth of food imported in the first quarter represents 11.6% of total imports for the period. Food self-sufficiency has become a burning priority in government, particularly as COVID-19 disrupted import supply chains in 2020 and exposed the country’s long-running over-reliance on imports.
Government is spending P1.95 billion on various agricultural initiatives under the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan, with a focus on commercialising the agricultural sector towards food self-sufficiency.