Gaborone — The grain stock held by Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) can only sustain the country up to July.
Updating the media on March 19, the chief executive officer of BAMB, Mr Leonard Morakaladi said the grains comprised of 48 000 metric tonnes of sorghum, 1 500 metric tonnes of white maize and 2 000 metric tonnes of pulses.
He said BAMB was contracted by government to manage its strategic grain reserve (SGR), and that it has been managing and maintaining the grain reserves for more than 20 years. He noted that their maximum grain stock level was 70 000 metric tonnes, and that it comprised of 30 000 metric tonnes of sorghum, 30 000 of maize and 10 000 of cowpeas.
Mr Morakaladi said of the total grain stocks, 30 000 metric tonnes was sorghum, 2 000 was pulses while maize was at zero and needed to be replenished to 30 000 metric tonnes or at least 10 000.
On other issues, he said the contract farming scheme was doing well and that they closed for new signings last week. He noted that they registered 110 farmers in Pandamatenga, 47 in the Kanye region, 13 in Moshupa, four in Tutume and three in Molepolole.
He said the contracts were for white and yellow maize, millet and red sorghum, and that it was designed to cater for the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security's ISPAAD programme in the north and south of the country.
He also noted that BAMB used the South African Futures Exchange (SAFEX) to set producer buying or selling prices in parity with imports as a benchmark. He added that as a net importer of grain, Botswana was exposed to external market conditions since imports directly competed with locally produced grain.
He said contracted farmers would be paid P2 500 per metric tonne for white and yellow maize and P2 650 per metric tonne for sorghum. He also noted that the prices were discussed with farmers' associations last year.
Mr Morakaladi said they had closed borders for the import of grains and finished products in order to stimulate local consumption. He added that the decision had bore fruit for BAMB as it translated into good business. He said BAMB also provided veterinary services by selling livestock inputs such as animal medicines, dips and vaccines.
Source : BOPA