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Strategic grain reserves are Coronavirus-proof, BAMB assures

MBONGENI MGUNI
Strategic grain reserves PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
The Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) has moved to assure the nation that strategic grain stocks are sufficient in the event of any prolonged disruption due to the ongoing coronavirus.

South Africa entered a lockdown on Thursday midnight, while President Mokgweetsi Masisi yesterday warned Batswana that similar measures were imminent locally.

While a lockdown would still allow cargo trucks in and out of neighbouring countries, as well as the movement of essential service workers, the risk of disruptions rises due to the precarious nature of systems during the crises. BAMB CEO, Leonard Morakaladi said the food security spearhead was on top of its game with regards to supplies the local economy will require going forward.At present, BAMB’s silos hold 30,000 tonnes of sorghum representing nine months’ cover, 5,000 tonnes of yellow maize or one month’s cover and 2,500 tonnes of beans or two months’ cover.

At minimum, the BAMB is required to keep 10,000 tonnes of sorghum, 10,000 tonnes of maize and 2,000 tonnes of beans. “BAMB is very prepared for the possible lockdown with enough grains in our storage to last up to nine months,” Morakaladi said. “With the coming harvest in April 2020, BAMB will have enough grains to

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cover a further 12 months.”

While local farmers are generally able to supply BAMB’s requirements of sorghum and beans, white maize is largely imported by millers such as Bokomo and Bolux.

The millers import about 95% of their white maize and nearly all of their wheat grain for the local market from South African farmers. Morakaladi said the food security issue during the coronavirus crisis was being guided from the highest authorities in the country. “BAMB, together with the ministry of Agriculture has put in place a plan through a COVID-19 Action team that was set up, to ensure availability of grains into the foreseeable future,” he said.

“The Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Edwin Dikoloti has taken personal charge of the committee to ensure accuracy of data provided on availability of food and requisite response in case of (an) emergency.” Local farmers are expected to produce an improved harvest this year owing to better rains, after years of declining yields due to persistent drought and heatwaves.



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