Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) is projecting to pay farmers a whopping P398 million for their harvest this year.
This is more than double the amount the Board paid out to farmers last year when it paid out P160 million.
This is because as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BAMB, Leonard Morakaladi pointed out; farmers have been blessed with a very good harvest.
“Our farmers, especially the crop farmers, have been blessed with a very good harvest. We are projecting to payout P398 million to our farmers,” said Morakaladi at a recent press briefing, adding this will be for a variety of grains such as sorghum and maize.
Morakaladi said last year BAMB only managed only 2, 000 of maize from local farmers due to drought, but revealed that this year the Board is projecting between 20, 000 and 30,000 metric tonnes.
“It is not enough, but it is a historic crop looking at the parameters of maize production,” said the BAMB CEO.
According to Morakaladi, BAMB is currently in a season where it is paying a lot of money to farmers to procure grain.
“Right now we just surpassed the P50 million mark that we have spent on farmers, but we haven’t reached 50 percent of the harvest. So, you can imagine the amount of money that we are going to need just for the grain to sit in our silos,” said Morakaladi.
Morakaladi said as a result of cash flow issues, BAMB is tying its money in grains.
He said BAMB is trying to strike a balance between what it needs to buy from farmers and providing services to customers, especially the livestock farmers.
“We need to mop-up all the food that has been grown to put it in our silos because we are not sure about the length of time it is going to take before the borders are open. We are faced with a challenging situation because of the borders,” stressed Morakaladi.
Although expecting what he terms ‘historic’ harvest on maize, Morakaladi noted the truth of the matter is that the country consumes around 120, 000 metric tonnes annually.
Morakaladi said what BAMB can get from local farmers is only enough to service its walk-in-trade and small-time millers.
“Our big millers on their own, collectively bring close to 80,000 to 100, 000 metric tonnes,” he said, adding that this signals an opportunity for people to get into crop production.
The BAMB CEO said because of the economic downturn currently being experienced, Botswana could no longer rely on its neighbours for food.
“There was a time when maize was in short supply, for a simple reason that it takes 2-3 days before the trucks are allowed in due to Covid-19 issues. So, we cannot afford anymore to be procuring from our neighbours,” cautioned Morakaladi.