Consumers can expect to pay more for maize meal this festive season, the Botswana Maize and Wheat Millers Association (MWMA) has said.
The association said although consumers will have access to maize meal on shelves, the price of maize meal will rise over the period December 2017 to February 2018.
According to the association chairperson, Nkosi Mwaba, this is a result of local millers being forced to take-up local maize crop at a price higher than the current landed maize prices derived from SAFEX [South African Futures Exchange].
He noted that millers produce between 100,000 and 120,000 metric tonnes of maize meal, including samp, per annum and consume up to 150,000 tonnes of white maize annually. “This production level is sufficient to supply maize meal in excess of local market demand,” he said. He assured farmers that millers will continue to procure all the maize produced by local farmers, either directly or through the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB).
In order for this process to be viable and sustainable for the industry and in order to satisfy consumer expectations, Mwaba said there are three conditions that must be met consistently and without compromise.
“The conditions are that maize crop must be of good quality WM1 (A-grade), must originate from Botswana farmers, it must be sold at or as close as possible to market related (SAFEX) prices,” he said.
According to the chairperson, if the rules of commerce are applied and an open, free and competitive market system is allowed to prevail, millers are confident that farmers will be enabled and capacitated to grow to a point of self-reliance within the local supply chain.
“This is a critical step toward attaining food security within the economy of Botswana,” Mwaba said. He further indicated that the farming sector will grow exponentially, jobs will be created and Botswana will significantly reduce its reliance on the importation of basic or essential food supplies.
He said the milling industry will see growth and sustainability to a point where it becomes export-ready and regionally competitive as has become the case with Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe who have attained self-reliance in maize.
Mwaba said the association stands against the imposition of dictated non-market related pricing structures that are imposed by government and state-owned enterprises without balancing this act with subsidies and/or other instruments to normalise and allow market forces to prevail freely.
“It is on this premise that millers wish to caution consumers of a possible rise in the price of maize meal which could be as high as 30% over the three month period to end of February 2018,” he said. Despite this, he said the association urges consumers to continue to buy locally produced maize meal in order to support and sustain the local economy.
Meanwhile, Mwaba stated that regional prices on maize continue to drop as the SAFEX pricing structure factors in various market forces that include the bumper harvests experienced as a result of good rains and favourable weather conditions.