BOTSWANA – Botswana continues to import 170,000 metric tonnes of maize annually as it has always run out of corn due to insufficient local production, according to an article by AllAfrica.

Speaking in an interview, Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) chief executive officer, Mr Leonard Morakaladi noted that on annual basis the country needed 190 000 metric tonnes of maize.

According to him, local production stood at 20 000 tonnes in a good year making the country rely on maize importation from especially South Africa and Zambia.

Given the government’s initiatives focused on improving arable agriculture, Leonard encouraged farmers to take advantage of the programs by expanding their arable farming.

He said they had started buying the 2017/18 produce and the purchase would run between the months of June and September 2018.

“The prices are set every month and they will be publicised while the purchasing will be for grade 1 and grade 2 except for cowpeas, which is strictly only grade 1,” he said.

He also urged farmers to handle their produce with care and maintain high quality standards as BAMB used grading standards that were developed by BOBS to grade the grains.

“Grades relate to a grain’s end-use quality, meaning that grades relate to how grain characteristics affect performance during processing or the quality of the end product.

When grading sorghum, it will affect the quality of the sorghum meal in terms of taste, appearance and extraction percentage if the grade has been compromised,” he explained.

To ensure adherence and reduce delivery costs in case produce is rejected, Leonard said it was critical for farmers to take samples to be inspected prior to delivery.

The country’s current samples to be inspected prior to delivery stand at 30 000 metric tonnes of sorghum, and 2 000 metric tonnes of cowpeas while maize had no quantities at the moment, according to him.

In a May statement, the board in a statement said, “The board has started the process of buying 5,000 tons of yellow maize from South Africa and 250 tons of white maize from Zambia.”

“During the current harvest season, we are expecting 2,000 tons of white maize from local farmers.”

The board said it is targeting 20,000 tons of regional imports this year.

Although Zambia is expecting an almost 10% increase in corn output this year, it has suspended exports until the end of September, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda said earlier this month.