The Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) Chief Executive Officer Edison Wotho has brushed aside claims by farmers that BAMB is buying their products at low prices. Wotho, who firmly dismissed the claims, said BAMB is the best paying in the world when it comes to agricultural products. Farmers across the nation have decried BAMB’s pricing strategy, saying it is buying their products at a low price while it is expensive for them to produce. The farmers are of a view that production expenses are very high while the market is paying very little. Some of the farmers had aired concerns that for them to start producing well, they should be motivated by good BAMB prices. The farmers particularly are looking at the prices of sorghum and maize. Most farmers seem to be happy with the price of beans which is said to be very attractive. According to BAMB price list, a 50kg bag of Tswana beans, Sugar beans and Black-eye beans is bought at P700 for Grade 1 while Grade 2 goes for P490. This is opposed to the P111 for the 50kg bag of sorghum and P81 for Grade 1 white maize for the individual producers. Since the price has been evaluated in the past years, BAMB has experienced bumper harvest for beans as many famers have gone into the production of beans. It has since been revealed that BAMB’s beans storage is currently full.
Wotho came out hard on the farmers, saying BAMB is paying very well as they currently buy 50kg of white maize at P120.00 for contract farmers. He further said they buy 50kg bag of sorghum at P135.00 while a 50kg bag of millet is taken at P150.00. “We are currently the best paying not only in Africa but in the world. In some places they buy the same bag of white maize between P80.00 and P100.00,” said Wotho. He pointed out that BAMB is all about quality hence some products which are of lesser quality are bought at lower prices. He lashed out saying it is not about BAMB prices but about efficiency and innovation to produce quality products. Wotho encouraged the farmers to plough quality crops for them to get value for their products. He said the farmers need to be informed about BAMB’s requirements for them to be able to meet them and get better pay-outs. It is of this reason that Wotho, who is also the chairman of the Public Entities of the Ministry of Agriculture, urged farmers to attend their Open Day to be held in Serowe on 4th May 2017. On this day all the entities of the ministry will be in Serowe in a mission to take their services to the people. Wotho said the purpose is to share information with the stakeholders for them to understand better the entities. The entities include among others BAMB, Botswana Vaccine Institute, BUAN, NFTEC and BMC. This is the second edition of the Open Day and the first was held in Kanye in 2016. “We are doing this so that we can get to know the grievances of our customers as well as get feedback from them. We are doing this in order to see how we can improve our services to Batswana,” he said.