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BAMB procures maize from Zambia

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Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) has procured about 5 000metric tonnes of maize from Zambia, Business Trends has learnt.

BAMB Chief Executive, Nyalalani Edson Wotho told Business Trends in an interview this week that they have run out of maize and are in the process of buying more from outside. “We have procured 5 000metric tonnes of non-GMO maize and we shall increase it if the need arises. We are expecting delivery in the next two to three weeks,” he disclosed. BAMB is a government parastatal, which is among others tasked with managing national grain strategic reserves.

Currently on the Storage Grain Reserves (SGR) Wotho said the sorghum is at its maximum level at 30 000metric tonnes which is exceeding their minimum of 10 000metric tonnes, whilst the pulses are at 2 000metric tonnes. There is no available maize at all in the SGR.

Meanwhile, the 2015/16 harvest season might be the worst of its kind in years for Botswana. The season, which has since been declared drought hit, does not seem promising either for this year’s production. The rainfall forecasts by the department of meteorological services are also below normal. 

This unavailability of rain dents farmers’ hopes of ever harvesting something to the table to fend for their families, let alone those commercial farmers who are in business and need to make money. Rural Sociologist, Dr Nelson Tselaesele told this publication that this year will be one of the worst drought years to be experienced in Botswana. “Generally the rainfall is low and the ploughing season is also short. Some tractor owners have decided to park their tractors.

Ploughing dry will cause them more costs as they will have to spend more on diesel,” shared Dr Tselaesele. The expert has indicated that there is a likelihood of an increase in the import bill for grain, particularly with maize. According to his observations as he moves around the country, if there is a harvest this year, it will be a miracle.

“However, I cannot rule out that rain may fall between now and end of January. Those in the Southern part may have a chance to plough something before the closing period, end of February. Maize is resistant to drought than sorghum, as it requires a lot of water. With the heat wave experienced, those who planted early November may not get anything at all. As for traditional crops like beans, there may be hope,” he said.

BAMB chief executive, on the other hand has indicated that it is too early to give projections for this harvesting season. “If the rain can bless us in the next two weeks, then we can have a clearer picture of where we stand for 2015/16 harvest season. For maize crops, however it might be a bit late.”

In 2014/15 harvest season, BAMB purchased a total of 34,104 metric tonnes of grains against a total of 65,846mt in 2013/14 season. Pulses purchases increased by 2000mt from the previous year, while there was a significant drop in sorghum and maize purchases as a result of drought. Maize purchases were at 239mt against 13,669mt in the prior year, while sorghum was 27,803mt from 43,321mt in 2013/14.

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‘Manufacturing holds key to economic growth’

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Barclays bank’s economist Naledi Madala has urged the country to consider manufacturing, as a key tailwind to drive the economy and reduce inequality.

She was speaking at a gathering organised by the bank which focused on economic outlook for 2019. “We should not make a mistake of leapfrogging without manufacturing,” said Madala, lamenting that the country’s diversification remains a pipeline dream, as the diamond is still the economy’s mainstay. She bemoaned that mining activities in the country could not spring forward diversification, though non-mining GDP has been steady over the years.

“Extractive industries are not good stepping stones for diversification, the sector does not prepare us for the next step,” said Madala at the Barclays’ Economic Outlook Forum Review 2019. The economist further noted that government should confront head-on challenges of productivity and competitiveness to attract the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Though diversification efforts continue to hit a brick wall, Madala said the country should expect increased activities in the mining sector hinged to ramp up in coal production in the year ahead.

She also implored government to consider a welcoming attitude towards foreign investors and generous tax incentives to businesses that set up in the country. Madala is also upbeat that the use of public private partnership model could also help diversify the economy coupled with privitisation. “Privitisation will offer opportunities for growth, through the renewed optimism from government, as business confidence has improved,” said Madala.

She implored the government and the business community to access what is going to drive and hinder growth highlighting that key headwinds to growth are income inequality, diversification challenge and productivity, among others. “The pace of poverty reduction has slowed down, while income inequality goes up,” said Madala

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MINISTER BEWAILS BAD REPAYMENT BY YOUTH

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama has told parliament his ministry continues to face challenges on the repayment of Youth Development Fund (YDF) loans.

Recently presenting the budget to Parliament, Khama said this financial year the ministry has received a total of 2582 YDF applications and approved 983of them to the value of P98 million. He said the programme attracts a high level of interest from youth but the ministry is only limited to funding a maximum of 1200 youth projects annually due to budget limitations.

“However the greatest challenge for the Fund is the repayment of the loan component by the majority of the youth businesses. The youth have advanced number of challenges for this including high rentals for operating spaces, low market access owing to tight competition and limited production capacities,” said Tshekedi, adding that they continue to pursue beneficiaries to repay the loans.

Out of the 919 businesses funded 1058 jobs have been created. The minister highlighted that disbursements of funds will continue to be undertaken until the end of the financial year. “The YDF is currently under review in line with the pronouncement made by the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi in the State of the Nation Address, to improve beneficiaries through training, and encourage consortia and cooperatives,” said Tshekedi.

The ministry assists YDF beneficiaries in marketing their products and services through fairs and exhibitions. The ministry also runs entrepreneurship-training seminars for youth and in the past year 3692 young people were trained. Over 600 youth businesses attended fairs and exhibitions to market their products and services. Currently the ministry is collaborating with Local Enterprise Authority (LEA), First National Bank Botswana and Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) on training in entrepreneurship development and mentorship of YDF beneficiaries.

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