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Botswana grain reserve depleted

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Botswana grain reserve depleted
BACKTRACKING: Minister Ralotsia

Government injects P40 million for 2017/18 cropping season subsidy

The Strategic Grain Reserve has (SGR) has been exhausted and cabinet has augmented the subsidy by P40 million for the 2017/18 cropping season.

The 2012 Government decision to up cowpea prices from P350.00 to P700.00 per 50kg bag has resulted in the exhaustion of the SGR and the subsequent government revision of the bean price down to P450.00 for the 2017/ 2018 cropping season.

The current price of beans in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region hovers around P350.00 per 50kg bag with one tonne going for P7000.00. Apart from the exhaustion of the GSR, the reduction in bean price subsidy from the government was also affected by the good rains that caused a bumper harvest that dropped market prices to under P200.00 per 50kg in the region.

Hiking bean prices to P700.00 per 50kg bag was implemented to encourage local farmers to produce enough products to meet the requirements of the government feeding schemes such as at schools and clinics.

“Following the introduction of the cowpeas subsidy in 2012/13, my Ministry has witnessed a surge in the production of Tswana varieties,” noted Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia at a press briefing held at the Ministry’s boardroom on Tuesday.

The Minister highlighted that since the local price hike, Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) has produced 10 000 metric tonnes of beans as opposed to the less than 1000 metric tonnes produced before that.

“My ministry develops a statutory instrument to promote local produce by allowing traders and individuals to procure 100 percent cowpeas from Botswana and import only after exhausting local produce,” said Ralotsia.

In other news still at the ministry, Ralotsia has announced the revocation of the requirement by the ISPAAD programme to supply farmers with fertilizer as it has come to the ministry’s attention that some farmers and suppliers have cost the government millions of Pula in unscrupulous dealings.

“I have seen instances where people have hoarded fertilizer and kept it in their farms and claim money from the ministry, that is criminal,” he said.

Ralotsia also reminded the culprits that what they were doing was considered corruption and reminded them that these provisions though seemingly free, come at a cost to the government.