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Agric sector feeling the heat

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Agric sector feeling the heat

Unable to sustain local market

The local agricultural sector is on its knees – at least if the picture painted by President Mokgweetsi Masisi is anything to go by!

In his 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, Masisi revealed that the food import bill for the last financial year was estimated at P7.7 billion, an increase from P6.9 billion recorded in 2017.

The bulk of imported food stuff was listed as dairy and dairy products, followed by fruits and vegetable.

In 2018/19 financial year, which ended in March, the annual demand for milk reportedly stood at 65 million litres.

Only nine million litres were produced locally, which actually represents a slight increase from the 8.6 million produced the year before.

Local production will receive a much-needed pull in the udder with the upcoming Milk Afric Dairy Farm in Lobatse, which is expected to milk 500 cows initially, gradually increasing the number to 2, 000.

On the beef production side, during the 2018/19 financial year, a total of 271, 210 cattle were slaughtered by the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and private slaughter facilities.

This falls well short of the annual 310, 900 target.

Masisi noted that since 2011, there has been a recorded decline of the national cattle population from 3.1 million to an estimated 2 million in 2018.

In response, Masisi says government has adopted a Beef Cluster Strategy, which has identified areas of improvement, including ways of upgrading production, research and technology transfer and promotion and marketing of beef.

Meanwhile the local horticulture sub-sector is said to have shown signs of improvement, with domestic production of potatoes and tomatoes registering consistent growth in the past years.

The current production is said to stand at 73, 487 tonnes, accounting for 42.4 percent of the national demand of 112, 000 tonnes.

According to Masisi, the restriction on the importation of horticulture products such as border closures has helped in developing the local horticulture sector, particularly in the production of fresh vegetables.

Local production is reported to have shown steady growth over the last ten years in terms of both production and the number of farmers taking part in the sector.

During this time, the number of horticulture farmers increases by 61 percent from 400 in 2008 to 1, 018 in 2018.

Effectively, output in this sector also improved, increasing from 37, 890 tonnes to 65, 698 tonnes in the same period.

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Data sharing critical for banks and lenders

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Data sharing critical for banks and lenders

TransUnion Director Africa Business Development, Adrian Pillay says improving compliance and data sharing can help banks and lenders in Botswana lower their lending risks and reduce non-performing loans.

Pillay was speaking at a workshop last week to discuss the need for better data quality and risk based solutions across the financial services sector.

The initiative was aimed at helping local banks and lenders protect their profitability while promoting responsible lending.

Pillay stressed that as a risk and information solution provider, TransUnion Africa is keen to engage with the banks to discuss the challenges and status of data sharing in the market and how it can bring added value to the banking community.

He explained that data sharing helps uncover whether customers are good or bad payers of their loans.

“Credit bureaus on a monthly basis collect information on behalf of banks so effectively that if someone has a personal loan with a certain bank or home loan with another any lender can view the type of borrower you are. A bank can get a credit report from credit bureau which show the customers’ outstanding balance and a lender can decide whether to approve a loan or not. There are three credit bureaus at the moment operating in Botswana with micro lenders, banking retail customers’ data information,” highlighted Pillay.

For his part, TransUnion Botswana Country Manager, Kabelo Ramaselwana said it is critical for banks and lenders to understand their customers when it come to making the right decisions and ensuring their profitability.

He revealed average annual cash earnings in Botswana have increased by 5.1 percent over the decade to 2017 compared to an inflation average of six percent. He noted this makes it important to lenders to make the right lending decisions.

“As at December 2018, there were 277,762 household borrowers in Botswana with a total of P33.1 billion of loans extended by commercial banks. Unsecured personal loans now make up 67 percent of all household borrowings with 27 percent being mortgages and six percent motor vehicle loans. This reflects a significant shift in the composition of household debt over the past two decades. In 2000 unsecured personal loan made up only 45 percent of household borrowings,” said Ramaselwana.

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FNBB Hosts media

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FNBB Hosts media

In their effort to appreciate the 4th estate as one of their valued stakeholders, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) hosted a media engagement party last Thursday at Matebele village.

The gathering was attended by local journalists from various media disciplines, including online, radio, TV and print.

Among the attendees were business, lifestyle and sports reporters as well as social media influencers.

The fun-filled day included numerous team-building activities, such as quad biking, swimming and tug of war.

Speaking at the event, FNBB Communications and Public Relations Manager, Boga Chilinde-Masebu said the bank continuously seeks ways to empower media practitioners and grow the journalism profession.

“I am delighted to announce that this year, we will be participating at the MISA Botswana Media Awards 2019, scheduled for the 5 December. In addition to partnering with MISA Botswana for the event, we are sponsoring the Business Reporter of the Year Award under the Broadcast Media category. FNBB values its continued partnership and relationship with the media fraternity,” stressed Chilinde-Masebu, adding the bank oversees several programmes that aim to work collectively with the media to improve professionalism.

She mentioned FNBB has been running a Journalism Academy for the past four years to improve Business and Financial reporting, with special emphasis on analyzing and interpreting financial statements.

She revealed the Journalism Academy’s next edition is scheduled to take place from 29 – 31 January 2020.

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BAMB to the rescue

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BAMB to the rescue

Boards spends P140 million on local farmers

In the midst of tough trading conditions, Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) maintains there is positivity in the organisation’s financial performance.

Despite the drought experienced in the past ploughing season, BAMB CEO, Leonard Morakaladi revealed the board garnered some growth during the second quarter of the 2019/20 financial year.

Updating the media on BAMB’s financial performance this Tuesday, Morakaladi said, “In terms of where this growth is coming from, looking at our portfolio of the grain side, the key driver was sorghum which is a reflection of what we are able to procure as BAMB looking at the drought situation.”

He explained sorghum is naturally resilient when it comes to drought, which is why the crop drove the bulk of BAMB’s procurement.

“We just came out of the harvest season and we spent close to P140 million on our local farmers against a total of 44 000 metric tonnes of grains, which is predominately sorghum.”

Morakaladi further noted the lack of rain meant maize was almost non-existent in the latest harvest season.

Despite the dry weather, the BAMB leader declared a 14 percent increase in grain purchases compared to last year.

“We were expecting that because the drought was quite severe perhaps we were going to get relatively lower supplies. But because of Pandamatenga’s contribution, we were able to get a little bit more,” he said, adding the bulk of the P140 million was spent on Panda farmers, procuring half of the total grains bought during the period.

According to Morakaladi, the southern part of the country, which traditionally supplies maize, experienced widespread crop failure.

“But we went ahead for them to salvage something out of their efforts and bought residues as we encouraged them to bail up the failed crops. Most of them sold to us so that they can recover, not enough obviously to cover all their costs, but it was far better than walking away with nothing!”

Besides grain production, Morakaladi pointed out there is much they can get from farmers.

Painting a picture of the last few years in terms of grain purchase, he said maize has been drastically deteriorating because of the hostile weather.

“Our main focus now is to educate farmers on how best to produce more with the challenges that we have like the dry seasons and so on,” he stressed.

Morakaladi added that whilst there has been an increase in grain purchases between 2018 and 2019, it would be extremely beneficial if there was traction towards improving maize production, pulses and other crops.

Indeed, he announced BAMB is increasing buying prices of other crops in order to encourage farmers to produce a variety of crops.

Email:Kabelo@thevoicebw.com
Twitter:@Kabelo_Adamson

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