The Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) Chief Executive Officer Leonard Morakaladi has said that the marketing board was facing shortage of maize in its storages.
Morakaladi said this in a press briefing last week Friday giving an update on pricing and buying of grains from farmers.
National Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) funds have been exhausted and P235 million was needed from government to keep the stock at required levels, Morakaladi has noted.
A recent audit at the SGR has suggested that government has no money to cover that much and it was up to SGR to find a way to restock as stock holding level for maize was not met at year-end.
Morakaladi said on a good year Botswana produces 20 000 tons of maize both yellow and white and the millers should secure 50% of their consumption for local production and the rest they are at liberty to get elsewhere.
He said they were however still hoping to get more maize from farmers because it is currently buying time.
“Farming patterns are changing. Traditionally we were buying from June to September but because of new modern and modern ways of farming like irrigation we have extend the buying period.
We should commend the government on pricing because for the past three years an incentive was added on the price of cowpeas and beans as a motivation for farmers to produce more to contribute to our reserves.
We purchase grain based on agreed parameters of grading that was developed by Botswana Bureau of Standards by picking samples from farmers produce,” said Morakaladi
When giving grading factors BAMB Manager Quality and Product Management, Melitah Seago said grain should be free of poisonous weed and pests. Such low grade grain, Seago explained would not be accepted by BAMB because they accept only safe for consumption produce.
“The other challenge we have is of the grain bought from the western part of Botswana which is normally dry. We advice them to grow crops like sorghum, maize, cowpeas. We however get good quality produce from Ghanzi area.We held workshops around the country to spread the message on grading system and the farmers are complying,” Seago explained.