SA firm hunts for ditloo from local farmers

Farmers now have an alternative market for Bambara groundnuts (ditloo) in South Africa, following Botswana Exporters and Manufacturers Association’s (BEMA) recent initiatives and links with companies in the neighbouring country.

Bambara groundnuts are usually grown by poor smallholder farmers and are considered a women’s crop, usually given lesser priority, BEMA’s initiative could change the perceptions on this oil crop on the local market.

Agriculture researchers have also indicated that the local market’s groundnuts yields of oil crops are consistently low in all farming regions than the expected harvest, a development attributed mostly to poor rains and substandard management.

Mmantlha Sankoloba, BEMA Chief Executive Officer said the development comes after the association has been prospecting for new external market opportunities.

“We have since noted a demand for Bambara groundnuts in South Africa,” said Sankoloba.

Currently there is a buyer in South Africa, who has stated the intention to source two tonnes of these groundnuts, from the month of August this year.

“This is an opportunity for Botswana farmers considering the fact that, we already have producers of ditloo,” said Sankoloba adding that the opportunity goes beyond the current ‘call’ as there are other numerous potential buyers in South Africa.

“This in essence will aid local producers with their expansion or transition from subsistence to commercial scale hence boosts employment creation,” said Sankoloba.

She is upbeat that the association will continue to sign such agreements on behalf of its members and the farming community going forward.

“This will ensure that they derive maximum utility, speed up the process of securing the deals to avoid losing out to neighbouring competitor countries,” she emphasized.

Meanwhile the production estimates for groundnuts in South Africa for the 2020 season has been revised downward by more than 16 percent due to the drought experienced during the past year in certain parts of the summer grain production regions, according to Luan van der Walt, Grain SA economist.

According to the National Crop Estimates Committee’s (CEC) most recent forecast, the current expected groundnut crop was 52 140t, which was a 16,54 percent decrease, or 10 330t less than the previous forecast of 62 470t.

“Indications are that about 20 000t will have to be imported, mainly from Brazil and Argentina, to meet the 70 000t local demand,” said Van der Walt.

This year’s crop will however be more than double that of last year when total production amounted to only 19 400t produced from just over 20 000ha.

Over the last 20 years, there has been a gradual decline in groundnut production in South Africa.

Historical data from the CEC shows that at the turn of the century, South African farmers planted about 95 000ha to groundnuts.