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Last Updated
Tuesday 03 August 2021, 12:07 pm.
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BAMB refutes reports of food crisis

Programmes that Botswana has established to deal with food sustainability do not indicate that the country could be headed for a crisis, at least for the short- to medium-term.
By STRYKER MOTLALOSO
Staff Writer
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BAMB refutes reports of food crisis








In an interview with Mmegi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board, Masego Mpathi explained the indicators used to assess Botswana's current food situation.

At this time, we do not look at what we have in storage, Mphathi said. It is harvest season, and what is in the fields counts more. What is in storage runs down to May.

Currently we have 1 500 metric tonnes of old grain. We see farmers deliveries and we are optimistic about the harvest.

Estimates are that about 22, 000 hectares of sorghum and sunflower have been ploughed. Out of this, between 12 and 14 thousand hectares of sorghum were destroyed by floods and eaten. Mphathi says another 20, 000 hectares and 8, 000 hectares came under the plough for sorghum and sunflower respectively from Pandamatenga Farms.

BAMB needs to restock: We are currently meeting with farmers to explain how we can buy their produce and to stockpile the surplus, says Mpathi, contacted in Pandamatenga.

He says BAMB always runs low towards the end of the harvest. He explains that government strategic grain reserve is important in the event of a shortfall. The emergency facility keeps sorghum at the level of 10, 000 metric tonnes, which is estimated to last for three months.

The last time the strategic reserve was used was in 2006 when old sorghum was sold and was replaced with fresh grain. Mphathi says when grain is kept for a long time in silos, it loses its taste and has to be replaced.

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This year, BAMB plans to rotate the reserve, draw it down and replenish it with harvest from Pandamatnga and the southern part of the country.

Mpathi says though the country has been importing maize, that is done on a small scale and only because a certain amount of stock is needed for carry over purposes. BAMB sources its stock from farmers in Ga-Ngwaketse and Barolong Farms first, and from South Africa when there is a shortfall.

Will the country face a maize deficit? Mphathi's answer is that South Africa's maize harvest stands at around 10 million tonnes, while its consumption is between 8 to 9 million tonnes. This means that while Botswana could survive from that little surplus if there was a shortfall, the country would have to compete with other countries. Buying before time could be a good strategy, Mphathi says.

Mpathi says BAMB has made recommendations for government to have contingency measures in case there is a food crisis. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr Lucas Gakale says some of BAMB's recommendations entail increasing the Government Strategic Grain Reserve from 10, 000 tonnes to 30, 000 tonnes, as well to include maize in the reserve, which the facility does not have at present.

He says he is surprised that Botswana is included among countries facing a food crisis. As Government, we have written to FAO (the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation) to give us the report so that we may comment on it, Gakale says.

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