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COSTLY: Food glorious food

Chewing over Botswana’s rising food import bill

The value of Botswana’s total imports for June reached P7.6 billion, with food footing P839 million (11 percent) of the bill.

This represents a slight rise from the May total when P7. 4 billion was splashed out on imports, of which P823.8 million went on food.

Leading the way in items destined for the stomach were cereals, which accounted for 17.6 percent of food imports. This was followed by beverages, spirits and vinegar, and sugars and sugar confectionery with 13.1 percent and 11.4 percent respectively.

The most imported types of cereals for the month were maize (corn), other than seed with a contribution of 39.2 percent, followed by wheat and muslin, other than durum wheat, which was responsible for 18.9 percent of the cereal total.

‘Beer made from malt’ contributed 35.5 percent to beverages, spirits, and vinegar, followed by beverages, fermented (cider, mead, sake) with a contribution of 26.4 percent.

Compared to the previous month of May, the most imported food commodity was beverages, spirits, and vinegar which accounted for 20.3 percent of food imports.

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They were followed by cereals and preparations of cereals, flour, starch, or milk pastry cooks with 14.7 percent and 7.6 percent respectively.

For that month, the most imported types of beverages, spirits, and vinegar were ‘beer made from malt’ at 29.7 percent, followed by ‘waters; including mineral and aerated, containing added sugar or other sweetening matter or flavoured’ at 19.2 percent.

The latest figures continue the rise in food imports since the beginning of the year. In January, food imports stood at P782 million, which was 10.9 percent of the month’s P7.2 billion worth of imports.

For that first month of 2021, the most imported food commodity was sugar and sugar confectionery at 18.7 percent followed by cereals at 15.3 percent.

Botswana is classified as a Net Food Importing Developing Country (NFIDC) with the opportunity to increase domestic production of basic foodstuffs like cereals and pulses.

However, Botswana’s annual national demand for cereals is believed to stand at 200, 000 tons with only 17 percent of the total demand satisfied through local production.

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