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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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Matambo calls on financial sector to pick GDP

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Finance Minister, kenneth Matambo

Finance Minister Kenneth Matambo has announced that government is committed to support financial service sector to prop up the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Currently contributing over 13 percent to GDP, Matambo said the sector has potential to increase its share. “Hence government’s interest in the sector,” said Matambo addressing delegates at the inaugural Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), Global Financial Summit.

The country has built a strong, resilient and fast growing financial sector underpinned by a robust regulatory framework. The finance minister who is expected to step down next year, noted that government’s commitment to the financial service sector has this year been buttressed by a number of laws passed in July relating to money laundering activities.

In addition, Matambo said the continued investment in the development of information, communication and technologies (ICTs) backbone infrastructure is also to support local banks’ rising appetite for online services.

The Minister said the country remains committed to maintaining micro-economic stability to spur private sector participation in the economy. “Our vision is to become a high income country by 2036,” said Matambo, challenging the private sector to step forward and help government to develop the country, bemoaning the low levels of financial inclusion and shallow domestic capital markets.

He said the private sector should come up with more initiatives to develop further the local capital markets. The Minister’s sentiments were also shared by Martin Davies, Managing Director for Emerging Markets and Africa at Deloitte who has challenged the country to start dealing with its low manufacturing value add.

“How do we start to diversify beyond the single commodity economy,” quizzed Davies, adding that manufacturing increase is vital for low inequality across the country.

“Inequality results in bad public policy, as the state starts to believe and think they have to intervene more,” said Davies, highlighting that the country needs to move away from the absolute concept of state drive growth. Meanwhile, minister Matambo has applauded the private sector for leading economic dialogue in the country through events such as the BIHL Global Finance Summit.

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First Lady advises women entrepreneurs

Keikantse Lesemela

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First lady, Neo Masisi

First Lady, Neo Masisi has urged women entrepreneurs to bring change in the economic development of the country and the rest of Africa.

Speaking during the Lioness Lean in Africa breakfast on Friday, Masisi said women entrepreneurs are remarkable engines of economic growth and job creation. “I believe women entrepreneurs hold incredible potential and credentials on the continent because Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world.

It is projected that millions of much needed jobs will be created over the next decade and these will be created predominantly through small businesses which are mostly run by women,” said Masisi.She highlighted that women entrepreneurs are also the most powerful engine for equitably distributing growth and they are also solutions for addressing inequality on the continent.

“It is a proven fact that for many generations, women understand the simple concept of barter and commerce. These are the role models of our past and our present and they will continue to inspire new generations to do more for business to grow,” she said.

The Lioness Lean In Breakfast Series brings together inspirational and successful women entrepreneurs to share, inspire and connect with the next generation of great women-led start-ups.

The platform is based on a breakfast networking and speaker presentation format, which has been organized in locations across the African continent for the past year by Lionesses of Africa, empowering over one million women entrepreneurs across the continent.

Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Personal Markets, Omphemetse Dube said they are pleased to bring the Lionesses of Africa Lean In platform to Botswana once again to bring together women entrepreneurs in the country and help to nurture their growth further.

“Botswana is blessed with a number of thriving female entrepreneurs, and the potential for the next generation of talent is strong. Platforms such as this are therefore paramount in growing the cause and we as a bank are proud to help champion that movement further,” said Dube.

Founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa,Melanie Hawken noted that Gaborone is a growing and exciting centre for women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. “This is a must-attend event for women entrepreneurs in the country as it gives them the opportunity to hear the inspiring entrepreneurial stories of women who are building great businesses here,” she said.

The annual Lionesses of Africa event allows entrepreneurs to benefit from the insights and advice of women entrepreneurs who have seen and experienced it all and to also provide an excellent opportunity for networking.

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