Serowe — Department of Crop Production deputy director, Mr Barutwa Thebenala has assured the directors of OLHydro Veggie that government will support them.
Mr Thebenala said this at the recent launch of OLHydro Veggie, a company which specialises in supplying hydroponic systems.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.
The company is owned by two youth, Messrs Olemogile Botsile and Lesego Obuseng.
Mr Thebenala said government has identified horticulture as one of the sub-sectors through which agricultural diversification and growth could be realised.
In addressing youth unemployment, Mr Thebenala said government sought innovative ideas to mitigate the challenge.
"Government has identified horticulture as a lucrative sector that can assist the country realise its mandate of economic diversification, reduce importation of goods and stimulate economic growth as well as employment creation," he said.
He said crop production had the capacity to create more employment for Batswana, adding that it was one of the sectors which had already created jobs for Batswana.
"Government is facing challenges of youth unemployment and the President has made it clear that he will address the issue of unemployment which is bedeviling the country," he said.
He commended OLHydro Veggie directors, saying protective cultivation was the answer to the challenges of climate change which was affecting crop production.
"Global warming dictates a change in crop production methods in order to produce continuously, therefore production structures such as tunnels and green houses will help abate the effects of climate by ensuring continuous production.
This project will contribute to food security in Botswana.
It will also diversify the economy and contribute to the growth of the horticultural sector," he said.
Mr Thebenala said government would continue to support hydroponic businesses, and urged Batswana to try their hand at it.
"We are in full support of this initiative and will spread the message. We will also from time to time advise ISPAAD participants to engage with your company through training and advise sharing," he said.
He said the ministry's vision was to ensure sufficient food production for the country and exportation to other countries.
Mr Thebenala said horticulture remained largely untapped, noting that the country imported almost 97 per cent of vegetables from neighbouring countries.
He said hydroponic planting was ideal since it saved water and an easy method in controlling pests and parasites.
"Lack of rainfall, fluctuating temperatures and increased demand for food have all contributed to the current conditions which make the future of farming unpredictable, but with hydroponic it is possible," he said.
He thanked OLHydro Veggie directors for their innovative ideas and advised them to take challenges as they came.
One of the directors, Mr Obuseng said their vision at OLHydro Veggie was to ensure that they turned Botswana into a country where all prided themselves in vegetable production.
He said there was need for Botswana to not only be sustainable in vegetable production, but also to produce for the international market.
"Our government is already a step ahead through the backyard gardening, an initiative meant to boost the country's food security and also as a means of income generating," he said.
Mr Obuseng explained that in their case they used coconut fibre instead of soil to grow plants.
"This is the fastest growing agricultural sector which has the potential to dominate food production. We have had many beneficiaries of the backyard gardening initiative, but most of the projects have failed since they were not able to generate enough revenue to cover operational and fixed costs of production. With this system one can be sure of 100 per cent harvest," he said.
Mr Obuseng said after many setbacks, realising more costs and less harvest in traditional farming, they conducted a research to find the easiest way of planting.
Hydroponics, he said, was the key to success in farming because of its potential for high returns with less costs.
"Besides the actual farming, we also supply the hydroponic farming equipment.
So we also basically engage our prospective clients in a realistic, goal-oriented simple practical course on hydroponics," he said.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>