Botswana: Govt Improves Agric

Serowe — Government is determined to broaden, enrich and develop the agricultural sector, the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, has said.

To achieve this, he said, government would improve the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD).

Speaking during Serowe trade and exhibition show on August 9, President Masisi said, in persuit of this mission, government had already purchased four heavy duty tractors to be used for clearing fields.

For optimal use of these tractors, farmers would be encouraged to undertake cluster fencing, but each would maintain their land right and size.

President Masisi said, within clusters, space would be reserved for roads as well as future infrastructural developments such as water pipes, electric cables and fibre optic cables.

Farmers would also be given permission to carry out other activities such as agricultural tourism in their fields for diversification purposes.

However, the President pointed out that such activities should not harm the environment.

On other issues, President Masisi said government would go all out to ensure internet availability at lands and cattle posts.

He said 600 youth were being trained and more would follow so as to provide ICT services.

"These developments are in line with government's plan to establish the ministry of communications, which will fall under the State President," he added.

Furthermore, President Masisi said the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security would, from next year, help to ensure that all agricultural show grounds are used for other purposes such as camping, lodging, agro-processing and entertainment.

Another initiative that government intended to pursue, he said, was to have Batswana owned companies specialising in making seeds that would be suitable for the country's climatic conditions and also to start laboratories for soil testing.

He said the only laboratory in Gaborone was not enough.

He said countries such as Seychelles, Kenya, Mozambique, Mali, Rwanda and Ethiopia were yearning for the country's agricultural products such as beef and vegetables. Hence, the need for more farmers to up their game.

Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) chief executive officer, Mr Thabo Thamane, said his organisation sponsored Serowe show in an effort to grow the event as well as attract more exhibitors.

He said 2015 marked the first year of CEDA's three-year commitment to sponsor the show to the tune of P400 000 and make it one of Botswana's leading trade expos. He said this amount was for the period 2015 to 2017 and over the past two years the show received more funds towards logistics to the tune of P200 000

Mr Thamane said CEDA's footprints in the Central District were worth P516 million, out of which P252 million went to agribusiness, P159 million to services and P105 million to property and manufacturing.

He noted that this empowerment trickled down to the families and communities of those employed by these businesses. He said in view of the level of investment, any opportunity to facilitate their clients' access to market as well as networking for more opportunities would be supported.

Mr Thamane said CEDA was mandated to finance citizen businesses such that Batswana could also play an active role in the economy. By so doing, he said, challenges such as unemployment would be addressed.

However, he said, several businesses were affected by the prevailing drought and this was a challenge that led to closure of some enterprises. He said in order to mitigate challenges facing the businesses that they financed, they offered a supporting role in terms of advice, training and mentoring services.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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