BAMB addresses Chobe farmers

The Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) is Botswana’s market for locally grown scheduled crops such as cereals, pulses/beans and oilseeds. A part of their mandate is also to ensure adequate supplies exist for sale to customers at affordable prices.

At the recently held Chobe Agricultural Show in Pandamatenga, Botswana’s largest cereal producing region with close to 50 commercial farmers, farmers cried out to the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Honourable Mr. Patrick Ralotsia on challenges they are facing with the market. Both large and small scale farmers had their challenges to voice out.

Simialr between the two was an issue of pricing. The small scale farmers put out their complaint first that prices haven’t changed for years now but input as well s lifes demands keep increasing. Still on the issue of pricing large scale farmers shared their 2015 experience with the minister saying that they had to look for alternative markets because the prices that BAMB offered were not good enough. Another issue related to the finances was that of delayed payments to both the farmers and these were all heard by the Minister as well as the acting CEO of BAMB.

A complaint that, however, was unique to the large scale, commercial farmers was that of uptake of produce by BAMB. When the commercial farmers association chairman Mr. Daven Wheeler delivered his address he cited how it is a challenge during harvest time. BAMB was said to have a capacity of 1500tonnes daily but can only take 3-400tonnes currently. This was because the silos are not cleared or emptied on time hence the failure to take up the produce of the farmers. A result of this is that farmers then have to wait longer than usual to deliver which puts them at risk of delivering low quality crop and setting off the set timelines.

In response to these complaints, the acting CEO of BAMB started by acknowledging the concerns and complaints but not entirely as there are efforts that have already been made towards these. He said that there has been price changes and these are done every year. Meetings are held with all stakeholders to determine the prices and BAMB prices are usually higher than what the market actually offers. Towards the second complaint the acting CEO told farmers that there is a new payment facility that they have been working on to ensure that farmers are paid on time. Through this facility both small and large scale farmers will be able to receive their payments when due. Lastly on the issue of uptake of the cereals he expressed that the complaint is genuine and there is a plan in place to build more silos but stating first in the southern region, Mokgomane to be specific and these will be rolled out countrywide.