GIEWS Country Brief: Botswana, 20-March-2010
1. Lower 2010 cereal production expected, but crop still above average.
2. Pasture and livestock conditions mostly good but outbreaks of foot and mouth disease still limit the country's beef exports.
3. Index of prices of bread and cereals lower than a year ago.
Decrease in cereal production expected, but still above average
Rains were received earlier than normal in mid-November favouring land preparation and planting of the 2010 sorghum and maize crops.
Government has also assisted farmers with seed and other inputs as part of the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) programme. This year, a total of 247 245 bags of seeds were distributed to 90 570 farmers and 59 315 bags (50 kg) of fertilizers to 4 867 beneficiaries. After the favourable start of the season a prolonged dry spell was experienced in December in several areas and early planted crops were severely affected. Rainfall was about normal in January and February but was probably too late for early planted crops. Early estimates prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture in late February indicate a reduction in cereal production from the good of last year to some 65 000 tonnes, still an above average crop.
Pasture and livestock conditions mostly good
Pasture and livestock conditions in February were good in most districts, with the exception of Bobirwa and Kgalagadi North where conditions were only fair. Animal production is an important agriculture activity throughout the country, particularly in the central and southern areas, but repeated outbreaks of foot and mouth disease have jeopardized the country's beef exports.
Total cereal imports estimated to have declined in 2009/10
The cereal imports for the 2009/10 marketing year (April/March) are estimated to be below normal on account of the larger 2009 harvest. Imports in 2008/09 were exceptionally high because of the cross-border re-exports to Zimbabwe. However, even in a good production year, some 80 percent of the country's total cereal consumption requirement is met through imports. Domestic prices of food products (measured by the consumer price index) have declined steadily in recent months mainly reflecting the lower cost of imported supplies from South Africa. The sub-index of prices of Bread and Cereals was in February 2010 about 3 percent below year earlier levels.