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Gov’t pushes for BMC profitability

BMC Act amendment to be delayed

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.
 

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Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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