Commercialization sorghum in Botswana has grown rapidly during the past decade. The number of sorghum millers has increased four-fold, and sorghum meal has become competitive with maize in urban and rural food markets. In early 1999, ICRISAT conducted a study of the factors underlying this growth, and the prospects for further market expansion. The study showed that growth was driven largely by four factors: the traditional consumer preference for sorghum meal; strong financial support to millers from the government; the availability of reliable, high-quality supplies of grain; and effective promotion of processing technology by a parastatal agency. However, development of the milling industry had little impact on domestic sorghum production. Productivity in Botswana remains too low for the crop to compete with South African imports, and only 2% of the industry's grain purchases are grown domestically. Key issues likely to affect future expansion include the identification of alternative sources of grain supplies (e.g. Zimbabwe); improvements in product promotion, market intelligence, and product differentiation (e.g. targeting distinct products for breakfast porridge vs stiff porridge); and the prospects for industry consolidation into a few larger millers. While the Botswana case is not specifically replicable in neighboring countries, the stimulus created by linking technology, finance, and raw material supply offers important lessons for the development of commercial crop processing throughout Southern Africa.
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