Botswana struggling for self-sufficiency in milk production #Imports drastically outweigh local production
Every day, Botswana imports six-and-a-half times more milk than it produces locally.
This moo-numental discrepancy was revealed by Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Karabo Gare in parliament recently.
According to Gare, who was citing figures from 2019/20, the country consumes 178, 000 litres of the white stuff on a daily basis – which works out as 65 million litres a year.
This demand is predominantly quenched from sources outside the country, with imports accounting for 146, 685 litres a day while local producers make up the remaining 22, 192 litres.
Gare was responding to questions from Shoshong Member of Parliament (MP) Aubrey Lesaso, who had wanted to know the daily milk demand in Botswana and how much is supplied by local suppliers.
Lesaso also asked how the government intends to close the gap and ensure self-sufficiency.
“Government has introduced a number of initiatives to facilitate the development of the dairy sub-sector,” assured Gare.
He said small-scale farmers have been facilitated to form dairy cooperatives and agricultural management associations throughout the districts to facilitate the collection and marketing of their milk.
In addition, he said the government, through the long-defunct Financial Assistance Policy (FAP), assisted farmers to purchase dairy cattle, feed, milking equipment, and construction of milking parlours.
“The majority of the existing small-scale dairy projects were funded through the FAP programme which ended in 2000,” he declared.
The Minister further noted the government, through Article 26 (Infant Industry Protection) of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) agreement, imposes a 40 percent tariff on imports of UHT milk from the region.
“This is meant to reduce external competition against the local dairy subsector and promote its growth,” he explained, adding this has been in place for the past 13 years.
According to Gare, the government is also promoting private investment in the dairy sub-sector not only to improve productivity but also to create job opportunities.
He gave examples of Sunnyside Dairy Farm, Deo Volente Investments as well as Milk Afric, which is yet to take off.