Gaborone — Botswana continues to import about 170 000 metric tonnes of maize on annual basis as local farmers fail to produce enough required to feed the nation.
In an interview, Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) chief executive officer, Mr Leonard Morakaladi said on annual basis the country need 190 000 metric tonnes of maize.
"Local farmers are able to produce only 20 000 tonnes in a good year, therefore, the country rely entirely on importation of maize," he said.
Mr Morakaladi however, acknowledged the role played by government in coming up with initiatives, which focused on improving arable agriculture and urged farmers to utilise such to produce more grain to feed the nation.
Thus, he encouraged farmers to take advantage of such initiatives by expanding their arable farming adding that the role of a farmer was an essential one as they were the basis of energy.
He said they had started buying the 2017/18 produce and the purchase would run between the months of June and September 2018.
"The prices are set every month and they will be publicised while the purchasing will be for grade 1 and grade 2 except for cowpeas, which is strictly only grade 1," he said.
Mr Morakaladi encouraged farmers to handle their produce with the utmost care and maintain high quality standards stating that BAMB used grading standards that were developed by BOBS to grade the grains.
"Grades relate to a grain's end-use quality, meaning that grades relate to how grain characteristics affect performance during processing or the quality of the end product. When grading sorghum, it will affect the quality of the sorghum meal in terms of taste, appearance and extraction percentage if the grade has been compromised," he explained.
Where possible, he said farmers were advised to bring samples to be inspected prior to delivery to ensure adherence and reduce costs of constantly traveling to deliver with the risk of grain being rejected.
He said the current strategic grain reserves, which they manage stand at 30 000 metric tonnes of sorghum, and 2 000 metric tonnes of cowpeas while maize had no quantities at the moment.
Mr Morakaladi said the strategic grain reserve, which was a national food security base should always have 70 000 metric tonnes comprising 30 000 metric tonnes of sorghum, 30 000 metric tonnes of maize and 10 000 metric tonnes of beans.
Source : BOPA