Crop and livestock production prospects in Botswana in 2020 are expected to be most favourable, based on a high likelihood of a positive rain season, the Global Information Early Warning System on food and agriculture (GIEWS) has predicted.
In its country brief on Botswana released last week, the GIEWS said the favourable weather forecast bode well for the country’s 2020 agricultural season. This is a welcome development for farmers and the country’s general populace after cereal production this year declined well below average level, driven by significant rainfall deficits with this year’s national harvest plummeting by a record 82 per cent in five years. As a result, food insecurity worsened this year and this is expected to continue into early 2020 due to reduced agricultural production and poor harvests.
“Planting of the 2020 cereal crops is expected to start in November and crops are likely to be ready for harvest in May next year, GIEWs said in its forecast. “Weather predictions indicate a higher probability of average to above average rainfall during the 2019/20 cropping season, which could help instigate a recovery in crop production, as well as an improvement in pasture conditions and water availability for livestock,” it said. The 2019 summer cereal crops – maize, millet and sorghum – had been harvested by June, while the winter wheat crop is expected to be harvested this month.
However, cereal production was at estimated a low level of 8 000 tonnes in 2019. This harvest is at least 82 per cent lower than the previous five-year average recorded in the country. “The principal factor for the significant decrease was due to the severe seasonal rainfall deficits that adversely affected the harvested area and yields of the 2019 summer crops, which account for the bulk of the national cereal output,” GIEWS said.
It added; “The dry conditions also had a negative impact on the livestock sector and caused a significant decrease in the availability and quality of grasslands, causing a worsening of livestock body conditions and increasing mortality rates. Due to the reduced 2019 harvests, import requirements are estimated to increase during the 2019/20 marketing season with over 400 000 tonnes of cereal expected to be imported into the country.
“Most of this volume is comprised of maize, with imports forecast at 230 000 tonnes, while wheat imports are anticipated to reach 115 000 tonnes,” GIEWS said. The impact of drought conditions on domestic and regional food supplies has put pressure on food prices. As a result, there was a slight uptick in the annual food inflation rate, which was estimated at two per cent in August 2019, compared to a stagnant rate in August 2018. Most of the price increases in 2019 reflect a rise in bread and cereal, which have the largest weight in the food inflation index.
According to the Botswana Vulnerability Assessment Committee (BVAC), the number of people in need of food assistance is estimated to have increased slightly to 38 300 people between April and March this year. “The small increase is due to the impact of drought conditions on agricultural livelihoods, particularly the losses of crops and livestock that adversely affected households’ food supplies and income levels. The food insecure population is expected to be supported by Government programmes through, for example, the provision of urgent basic food relief packages,” BVAC said.
The GIEWS continuously monitors food supply and demand and other key indicators for assessing the overall food security in all countries. It is a department in the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) that leads international efforts to global defeat hunger.
This week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka approached parliament seeking lawmakers approval of Government’s intention to increase bond program ceiling from the current P15 Billion to P30 billion.
“I stand to request this honorable house to authorize increase in bond issuance program from the current P15 billion to P30 billion,” Dr Matsheka said. He explained that due to the halt in economic growth occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic government had to revisit options for funding the national budget, particularly for the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) has this week revealed a gloomy picture of diamond mining newcomer, Lucara, with its stock devaluated and its entire business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A BSE survey for a period between 1st January to 31st August 2020 — recording the second half of the year, the third quarter of the year and five months of coronavirus in Botswana — shows that the Domestic Company Index (DCI) depreciated by 5.9 percent.
Botswana Diamond PLC, a diamond exploration company trading on both London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday unlocked value from its shares to raise capital for its ongoing exploration works in Botswana and South Africa.
A statement from the company this week reveals that the placing was with existing and new investors to raise £300,000 via the issue of 50,000,000 new ordinary shares at a placing price of 0.6p per Placing Share.
Each Placing Share, according to Botswana Diamond Executives has one warrant attached with the right to subscribe for one new ordinary share at 0.6p per new ordinary share for a period of two years from, 7th September 2020, being the date of the Placing Warrants issue.
In a statement Chairman of Botswana Diamonds, John Teeling explained that the funds raised will be used to fund ongoing exploration activities during the current year in Botswana and South Africa, and to provide additional working capital for the Company.
The company is currently drilling kimberlite M8 on the Marsfontein licence in South Africa and has generated further kimberlite targets which will be drilled on the adjacent Thorny River concession.
In Botswana, the funds will be focused on commercializing the KX36 project following the recent acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds from Petra Diamonds. This will include finalizing a work programme to upgrade the grades and diamond value of the kimberlite pipe as well as investigating innovative mining options.
Drilling is planned for the adjacent Sunland Minerals property and following further assessment of the comprehensive Sekaka database more drilling targets are likely. “This is a very active and exciting time for Botswana Diamonds. We are drilling the very promising M8 kimberlite at Marsfontein and further drilling is likely on targets identified on the adjacent Thorny River ground,” he said.
The company Board Chair further noted, “We have a number of active projects. The recently acquired KX36 diamond resource in the Kalahari offers great potential. While awaiting final approvals from the Botswana authorities some of the funds raised will be used to detail the works we will do to refine grade, size distribution and value per carat.”
In addition BOD said the Placing Shares will rank pari passu with the Company’s existing ordinary shares. Application will be made for the Placing Shares to be admitted to trading on AIM and it is expected that such admission will become effective on or around 23 September 2020.
Last month Botswana Diamond announced that it has entered into agreement with global miner Petra Diamonds to acquire the latter’s exploration assets in Botswana. Key to these assets, housed under Sekaka Diamonds, 100 % subsidiary of Petra is the KX36 Diamond discovery, a high grade ore Kimberlite pipe located in the CKGR, considered Botswana’s next diamond glory after the magnificent Orapa and prolific Jwaneng Mines.
The acquisition entailed two adjacent Prospecting Licences and a diamond processing plant. Sekaka has been Petra’s exploration vehicle in Botswana for year and holds three Prospecting Licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Kalahari) PL169/2019, PL058/2007 and PL224/2007, which includes the high grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.