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Shot in the arm for subsistence farmers

KEIKANTSE LESEMELA
Farmers attending the contract price negotiations with BAMB in Gaborone last week. PIC KABO MPAETONA
The Botswana Agricultural Marketing board (BAMB) has decreased the minimum tonnage limit on grain purchase to encourage more subsistence farmers to sell their produce.

The decision was taken after a meeting with farmers last Wednesday to negotiate contract prices.

BAMB assistant communications officer, Kushatha Modiakgotla told BusinessMonitor that they will now accept to purchase five metric tonnes of grain from farmers down from the previous minimum limit of 10 metric tonnes.

Subsistence farmers are those who cultivate a maximum of 16 hectares and the total estimate of number of farmers in this category is 110,000 countrywide.

She said sorghum would be purchased at P2,550 per tonne, white maize at P1,800 per tonne and yellow maize at P1,750 per tonne.

“This is open to both subsistence and commercial farmers, but we have decreased the limit of purchase for subsistence farmers because we want them to benefit from their produce,” she said.

As net importer of grain, Botswana is exposed to external market conditions since imports directly compete with local produce because agro-processors/ millers are free to import.

BAMB chief executive, Edison Wotho said there is need to come up with a local model of buying grain from farmers in order to improve local farming business. “We should not just be depending on the South African models but

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we should have our own models so that we can be able to grow our business and avail grain to the residents of this nation at affordable prices,” said Wotho.

He explained that for local produce to compete with imports, BAMB sets producer prices at par with imports using the South African Futures Exchange (SAFEX) as a benchmark.

Wotho also said the number of commercial farmers has been growing rapidly. The BAMB 2014 annual report shows that in 2009 the number of farmers were 26 and increased to 80 in 2012 and currently there are 183 farmers recorded in 2014 with contract quantities also rising from 18,874 in 2009 to 68,094 in 2014.

BAMB has set producer prices on a monthly rather than daily basis during the harvest period in order to stabilise the ever-fluctuating commodity prices and confidence in the local market..

Through the introduction of Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD), the government wanted to increase production after realising that arable farmers were facing challenges as the emerging and commercial farmers did not get adequate assistance for their level of operation and production.



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