Pandamaenga’s dry land commercial farmers are worried that the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) is not increasing the prices for sorghum despite the rising cost of production.
According to the farmers, the cost of production for sorghum has increased by almost 40 percent this year. On the other hand, BAMB has only increased its purchasing prices for the grain by a mere 15 percent. In response to BusinessPost’ inquiry recently Pandamatenga Farmers Association Chairperson, Ryan Neal indicated that due to low BAMB’ buying prices which do not match cost of production, sorghum farming is no longer profitable. Neal indicated that in 2021 cost of production for sorghum increased by around 38 percent.
“Current production costs for sorghum have increased dramatically in the last year due to supply chain issues with agro inputs as well as our location. Production amount per hectare excluding finance costs in September of 2021 was P6200. We have seen fertilizer and chemical, and diesel prices increasing this to close to P10000/ha,” said Neal.
Neal indicated that BAMB is aware of the statistics on the cost of production for sorghum farmers in Pandamatenga area, but decided to offer buying prices which are lower for 2022 harvest. “We have opened our books and showed BAMB our production costs. But BAMB is currently offering P2950/tonne for contracted sorghum,” he said.
According to the farmer sorghum farming is now a loss making agribusiness as statistics show that in 1 hacter farmers normally produce less than 2.5 tonne, which can generate less than P7375. According to the statistics from the commercial farmers, sorghum farmers are making P2625 financial loss for every tonne of sorghum sold to BAMB.
Neal stated that the low prices have resulted in some commercial farmers significantly reducing sorghum farming. He further that if buying prices do not increase and match cost of production farmers could further cut hacters under sorghum farming during the next planting season . “Yes, the low prices are having a negative impact on sorghum production at Pandamatenga. Normally we plant around 20000ha. This year there was less that 12 000 ha under sorghum due to low prices offered by Bamb,” he said.
Meanwhile, BAMB Communications Manager Adelaide Johnson noted that her organisation is aware of farmers’ concerns regarding high cost of production. She stated that the entity’ price increase for sorghum is informed by cost of production. Without giving statistics and further details, she stated that on annual basis prices are reviewed to ensure that they are aligned to cost of production and offer better profits to farmers.
“We cannot deny that inflation rate and price increases for certain raw materials across all industries including the agro industry have resulted with increase on cost of production. The farming community has raised the concerns on the continued increases of cost of production and BAMB has also noted the same,” she said.
Johnson expressed confidence that with the current buying prices farmers would sell their produce to BAMB. “We are confident that the farming community will bring their harvest sorghum inclusive as we have increased our prices by more than 15 percent in comparison to previous harvest season.”
She indicated that BAMB cannot increase sorghum buying prices beyond 15 percent as that could result with very high consumer prices for sorghum meal. “Sorghum is a staple food in Botswana and uninformed price increases will result in increased sorghum mill prices for consumers.”
In a recent update, BAMB CEO Benjamin Ditsele stated that Botswana is running short of sorghum, as government storage reserves have around 5 thousand metric tonnes and during the on-going harvest 44 thousand metric tonnes is expected from local farmers.
Recent figures show that national demand for sorghum stands at 200 thousand metric tonnes per annum and the CEO added that in its bid to meet the demand BAMB has started importing sorghum. BAMB, which is the major buyer of sorghum in Botswana, is mandated by government to buy cereal and grain harvests and sell to local milling companies, to ensure sustainable supply of food grains in the country.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
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Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.