The Minister of Agriculture, Christian De Graaf has revealed that efforts to amend the BMC Act to end its monopoly will resume as soon as BMC returns to profitability.
Previous efforts in 2012 to amend the BMC Act to de-monopolise the country’s beef export agency suffered a minor setback after Parliament deferred the bill citing some reservations.
“I intend to table the amendment bill to parliament as soon as BMC returns to profitability, last time some legislators were hostile towards ending BMC’ monopoly this time around I however expect them to support me,” said De Graaf.
The loss making BMC bounced back to profitability, recording P26 million after tax profits for the year ended 31 December 2013. BMC expects to reach a turnover of about P1.6 billion with profits reaching P46 million in the year ended December 2014.
De Graaf castigated reports that he was conniving with an SA top business man to buy BMC in order to make commercial farmers richer at the expense of small farmers.
“By making amendment calls I didn’t have any intentions to kill small farmers, in fact it is my desire to see small scale farmers be protected,” said De Graaf.
He also set the record straight saying he had no intentions of running BMC from his office instead there must be a regulator that will be conducting negotiations as well as issuing out permits.
Among sections targeted for amendment is section 21, which gives the minister powers to issue permits to any person who wish to export cattle. Sub-section 1 says that, “No person shall export cattle or edible products from cattle from Botswana unless he poses a permit in writing to do so, issued by the Minister,” while the next part notes that the commission (BMC) may slaughter cattle on behalf of any person for the purposes of exporting from Botswana. But for some farmers this Bill is what the doctor ordered.
“I don’t harbor any evil objectives of seeing BMC collapse, it must continue to play its vital role of supporting small farmers, once BMC returns to profitability that will be the right time to amend the act.
De Graaff argued that farmers have no reason to fear for anything because the abattoir will continue to buy from them through the Direct Purchase Scheme. “We are not going to bring anyone to take over the BMC, we will not allow the BMC to collapse,” he said. The minister said the request to amend the BMC Act came from the farmers not from government adding that BMC must continue even after amendment.
Regarding BMC market diversification, De Graaf said BMC continues to explore other niche markets outside Europe, meanwhile BMC is selling to lucrative markets such as Norway, UK and Continental Europe, BMC. Norway is paying 10-20% more than the EU market, but Botswana is sharing the quota with Namibia.
He added that it is particularly important to diversify away from traditional market South Africa.
“In 2015 BMC will increase its exports to the large Hong Kong market and increase volumes of beef to the Middle East. Increasing volumes for the Maun abattoir will also find their way into the Mozambique and east Africa markets”
“We remain confident that the Angolan market will open up for Maun products and that transit permission from Namibia will be given. Live cattle exports to Zimbabwe will be pursued,” said De Graaf.
Zimbabwe however was constrained by financial challenges and only imported 4,071 cattle from January to November 2014. By end of November 2014 BMC has already slaughtered a total of 136 376 cattle with Lobatse leading with 92 573 followed by Francistown at 27 489 and Maun 16 314.
Regarding the ISPPAD programme, De Graaf said the results of the ISPAD programe have been exceptional crop production for 2013/14 currently stands at more than 220 metric tons of which more than 125 thousand mt is cereals as compared to a total production of 64,980 mt and 33,755 mt of cereals for 2012/13.
De Graaf added that horticulture has great potential for growth. Meanwhile government has put up restrictions on the horticulture imports is part of its strategy to grow the industry by facilitating farmers to access the market. High value crops such as potatoes and tomatoes which were previously imported in huge quantities, currently import restrictions have been put in place.
“The restrictions are short-lived hence farmers must produce goods of good quality so that they can be competitive, the conclusion of the SADC EPA’S presents access for other agriculture products to the European union market in addition to beef which we have been long exporting,” he said.
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.