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SADC Regional Agricultural Policy to enhance access to markets

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SADC Regional Agricultural Policy to enhance access to markets

One of the major aspects which the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional Agricultural Policy is expected to address in the medium to long-term is access to markets within the region.

This was said by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Agricultural Development and Food Security, Jimmy Opelo this week during the launch of the European Union (EU) funded SADC-FAO project.

The project’s main focus is to provide support towards the operationalization of the SADC regional agricultural policy.

This is in addition to creating sustainable agricultural growth and socio-economic development due to enhanced production, competitiveness and improved regional and international trade.

“One of the things that sometimes we become oblivious to is that, once production and all other things have been done, is what’s next and it is the market and we need to also have the same information as far as sharing the markets concerned,” said the P.S.

Opelo says Botswana has ambitions of digitalizing its economy and as such information communication technology is considered an enabler in this process.

“It is against this backdrop that this project is in line with Botswana’s ambitions of enhancing information on agricultural production,” the P.S said, adding the project seeks to implement an effective agricultural information management system to guide policy makers and all other players to take appropriate decisions.

The project will allow timely collection, analysis and communication of information on any warnings of disaster and risks and monitoring of vulnerability and food security in the region.

“All of it I aimed at ensuring that we keep to our promise of sustainable agriculture and improved food security,” Opelo said.

Opelo revealed there is also a provision which states that there is some form of financial assistance which comes along with this project.

According to the P.S, the agricultural sector contributes between 4 percent and 27 percent of GDP across the SADC member states.

“The SADC region is rich in livestock and crop resources, but unfortunately with animals’ diseases and crop pests it is necessary that as a regional bloc we are in this together.”

Dr Rene Czudek, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Botswana says the policy was crafted to develop and advance agriculture in the SADC region.

“The policy was approved in June 2013 by the SADC council of ministers,” stated Czudek, further adding that the implementation of the policy should be supported by the SDAC Regional Agricultural Investment Plan of 2017-2022 that developed under the technical assistance of FAO.

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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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Beauty is my business

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Beauty is my business

Bringing a touch of glamour to the tourist town me and my business

With her perfectly applied make-up, glamorous weave and sparkly, polished nails, Lindy Makakatlelo is a walking advert for the services she offers.

The glowing 29-year-old is the founder and owner of Sugadols Beauty Salon and Spa, a beauty parlour that has kept the women of Maun looking good since March 2016.

Located in Nhabe Musuem, the business provides a variety of procedures, including make-up, facials, eyelashes, manicures, pedicures and waxing.

The glamour is worlds away from the bubbly beautician’s introduction to the beauty industry, when she did stick-on nails and lashes in the dusty street outside the tourist town’s Delta Spar.

It is a transformation Makakatlelo describes as ‘her journey from grass to grace’.

Speaking to Voice Money, she explained the journey was made possible thanks to funding from Gender Affairs.

“After being funded my business offered beauty services, massage and hair dressing but I have since closed the hair dressing segments as it was not profitable. I now specialise on beauty services.”

The decision has proved profitable as Makakatlelo says she now makes enough money to sustain both herself and her business.

Unlike most girls, growing up she had no interest in beauty or fashion, only developing that passion later on in life following a potentially crushing set back.

“I was not into the beauty industry at first, I developed the love when I studied Beauty Therapy at Gaborone Technical College,” she said, explaining her dream had been to pursue a career in Journalism.

Agonisingly, the young entrepreneur was a point short of qualifying for government sponsorship to study Journalism.

Refusing to let the disappointment define her, Makakatlelo ensured media’s loss was beauty’s gain.

Sugadols Beauty Salon and Spa currently employs two workers but Makakatlelo intends to recruit more staff as the enterprise grows.

Beauty is my business
PROUD: The young entrepreneur outside her spa

Makakatlelo, who revealed she started the business to empower herself and others, encouraged women not to sit on their dreams.

“Do not be choosy when it comes to jobs, you should start somewhere to reach your dreams,” she advised.

As for the future, the ambitious youth, who confessed to being drawn more to nails as compared to other beauty services, hopes to have her own gel brand and a fully blown beauty spa soon.

According to the owner of Sugardols Beauty Salon and Spa, the establishment mainly uses social media platforms for advertising their products, including a vibrant, up-to-date Facebook page.

They recently hosted the first ever Miss Sugadols Beauty Pageant – an initiative Makakatlelo plans to hold annually – as a way of promoting their services.

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Business

Delivering good news

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Delivering good news

Botswana Post registers profit despite amalgamation costs

Botswana Post CEO, Cornelius Ramatlhakwane says the amalgamation of Botswana Post and Botswana Couriers and Logistics went according to plan.

Although he described the task as demanding due to government’s insistence that no jobs be lost during the process, Ramatlhakwane revealed it has been achieved despite the costs incurred.

Addressing the media recently, the CEO said the amalgamation of the two institutions presented an opportunity to maximize talent management by putting the correct people with the required skills in the right place.

The process, according to Ramatlhakwane, was a costly one as Botswana Couriers and Logistics was insolvent, with approximately P12.4 million operating losses and P30 million in unrecoverable debts.

Despite the costs incurred from the amalgamation, Botswana Post managed to register profit before tax of P6.2 million, a 51.5 percent increase from the previous year while revenue grew by 16.5 percent.

Revenue growth is reported to have been driven mainly by the courier and logistics business, which contributed 83 percent of the total revenue.

Besides incurring costs due to the amalgamation, Botswana Post experienced a 23.6 percent increase in costs of sales.

This was because of the 50 percent increase in employee costs as a result of the rise in staff complement emanating from the amalgamation process.

Meanwhile, providing an overview for the 2018/2019 financial period in the company’s annual report, Chief Financial Officer, Ofentse Mabote noted growth before inclusion of courier and logistics business was just 2.3 percent.

He said the sluggish growth was largely driven by non-traditional revenue lines which grew by 10 percent whereas traditional lines registered 7 percent growth with both lines said to be facing stiff competition.

The company is banking on PosoMoney and low cost money transfer products to protect its market positioning.

Meanwhile, Mabote says the Universal Postal Union (UPU) Postal Economic Outlook for 2019 anticipates all key factors that underpin the activities of the postal sector worldwide will continue to expand.

Therefore, he says in this environment, postal operators are trying to adapt their business models, shifting their focus to parcels, logistical and financial services.

He noted the amalgamation of Botswana Post and Botswana Couriers and Logistics comes at an ideal time as it positions Botswana Post to capitalize on this trend.

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