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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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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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