Gaborone — President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama will today officially open the 7th National Agricultural show in Gaborone held under the theme, Practising smart Agriculture to Combat The Effects of Climate Change.
Addressing a press conference at the ministry headquarters today, the Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Kgotla Autlwetse said the show which started on Monday and ends on Sunday, has recorded an increase in the number of exhibitors and exhibits this year as compared to the past years, adding that they had a new sport of dog racing as well as horse racing.
Mr Autlwetse said recently there had been indiscriminate killing of donkeys that led to indefinite suspension of licenses in the trade of donkey products.
He noted that the decreasing donkey population threatened food security and nutrition of the rural dwellers.
He however called for an urgent need to develop a code of welfare for donkeys and horses.
He said in developing countries including Botswana, donkeys played an important role in agriculture and transportation of goods and people.
Mr Autlwetse said donkeys provided both direct and indirect incomes to rural households as they made it easier for families to access food and services.
He however lamented that the role of working animals remained neglected in cooperation programmes, particularly in sectors such as agriculture, gender, food security and rural development.
The assistant minister cited agriculture as the main source of livelihoods for 2.5 billion people, adding the sector 'is widely acknowledged as a path way out of poverty and a key contributor to food security.'
He said despite that donkeys provided a key source of power, both in terms of production and distribution, they are critical to the farming systems.
Mr Autlwetse also mentioned that the global demand for donkey hides had escalated rapidly.
The hides, he added, were boiled to extract a gel for medicinal purposes.
He explained that currently, there were two licensed slaughter facilities to export donkey hides, being Y2K (Pty) in Gantsi and Ma Di in Lobatse.
In addition, he said, Develop Advanced Institute in Lentsweletau and Bo Chang (Pty) Ltd in Francistown were licensed to slaughter donkeys for meat adding that the Red Lotters situated in Mochudi was licensed as donkey hide collectors.
He said the public should be sensitised on donkey welfare and benefits derived from rearing donkeys.
He noted that they would be holding a Donkey Pitso effective August 29 in Maun, Francistown, Serowe, Molepolole and Kang to sensitise the stakeholders and map the strategies of regulating the industry going forward.
The estimated world's donkey population is 44 million with the large number emanating from Africa, while in Botswana the 2015 statistics showed 227 000 donkeys.
Source : BOPA