Massive food shortage to hit Botswana

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Mpho Tebele

Gaborone - Botswana’s vulnerable households are expected to be hardest hit by the increased food insecurity in the country that will last until next year.

According to figures released by the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB), the food situation will remain precarious because of poor cereal production.

The situation is compounded by the fact that the country received below normal rainfall during the current rainy season.  

BAMB warned that the result is that the country will witness a serious shortage of food supply, as most parts of the country are blighted by crop failure.

BAMB, which is a parastatal is mandated to provide a market for locally grown crops and ensure adequate supplies at affordable prices in the country.

Leonard Morakaladi, BAMB chief executive officer, attributed the looming shortage of food to low rainfall during the 2018/19 ploughing season.

He said the result is that the country's food security is under serious threat. He revealed that the grain stock held by his entity can only sustain the country up to July.
Morakaladi further revealed that the grains comprised of 48,000 metric tons of sorghum, 1,500 metric tons of white maize and 2,000 metric tons of pulses.

Of the total grain stocks, Morakaladi said, 30,000 metric tons was sorghum, 2,000 metric tons was pulses while maize was at zero and needed to be replenished to 30,000 metric tons or at least 10,000 metric tons.

Morakaladi said a number of farmers have been affected by low rainfall and, therefore, called on them to cut stocks of their failed crops and his organisation would procure them.

“We don't want our farmers to experience a total loss of their investment. Hence, we urge them to cut down the stocks of failed crops and sell them to us,” he said.

According to Morakaladi, “For the first time, we are saying whatever they produce, they bale it and we process it into cattle feed so that they also recover something. We want to buy everything, even lower grade crops, to start manufacturing feed.

“For some farmers, the crop does not come out well or mature properly, but we will take it anyways.”

Botswana experienced a dry spell from mid-January to early February, which caused moderate to severe crop moisture stress, especially in the northern part of the country.

The BAMB CEO said they had engaged more than 200 farmers to supply maize for the local market.

Morakaladi said farmers were engaged to produce both white and yellow maize, adding that more than 50% of the contracted farmers are from Pandamatenga in the north part of the country where farming is growing.

Morakaladi said but the local farmers produced less than 10,000 metric tons adding that the nation consumes 120 metric tons.

Due to poor harvest, BAMB is now expected to import cereal and maize from neighbouring countries.

 

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