Gaborone — President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi donated two Brahman heifers to the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) on February 20.
He received the heifers as a gift from Botswana Beef Farmers Association.
"On behalf of the farmers and the government of Botswana, I would like to donate the two heifers I just received from the Botswana Farmers Association to BUAN," said Dr Masisi.
He said, in the hands of BUAN, the cattle would realise much more value for the good of everyone.
"To you BUAN, ensure that you harvest the eggs from the two heifers and multiple them more than they could do naturally, said Dr Masisi.
He said the farmers gave out the cattle out of generosity and therefore, 'on behalf of Batswana and my family I would like to thank you for the wonderful gesture.'
Dr Masisi said his administration intended to revitalise the agricultural sector.
"We are budgeting to support your efforts towards modernising and transforming farming and we are committed on a transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy," said Dr Masisi.
Despite encountering numerous challenges such as severe drought, Dr Masisi applauded farmers for staying defiant and achieving positives despite the odds.
He, therefore, urged farmers to transform the skills level and engage in research that would go a long way in growing the beef sector and agriculture in general.
"As farmers you must be solution providers to the challenges of agriculture in Africa and the rest of the world," said Dr Masisi.
The President also received two Charolaise heifers from Mr Rudy Lemckey's family which he donated to First Lady Neo Masisi.
When handing over the gift on behalf of the Botswana Farmers Association, Mr Lemckey said the farming community was honored to donate to President Masisi and family.Mr Lemckey said, despite undergoing through a season of severe drought and challenges of BMC struggling to pay farmers, the farmers remained steadfast to overcome their challenges.
He said under the tutelage of Dr Masisi, farmers were given a waiver to sell cattle across the borders saying 'government efforts are beneficial to small farmers'.
"As a foot soldier for small farmers, I can confirm that your efforts have changed our lives for the better as you listened to our voices appealing for help," he said.
He said they aimed at building a resolute beef industry and being the best in Africa.
Meanwhile, BUAN vice chancellor, Professor Jasper Rees acknowledged the donation of the two heifers from President Masisi.
Professor Rees also indicated that BUAN was undergoing transition with the view of turning into a world class research intensive university in collaboration with other concerned parties in the agricultural sector.
He said the donation came at a time when BUAN had moved past the hardest part of transformation, said Professor Rees.
Professor Rees also stated that agriculture was not a hobby, but rather a business undertaking.
"You can keep cows as pets, but the reality is that agriculture is a commercial sector," said Professor Rees.
"We have a long way to go, we have much to do, we are in the middle of a major transformation journey," he said. Professor Rees said Botswana was blessed with livestock production and as such BUAN would use the available technology to grow the sector.
"The donation of heifers that we just received from President Dr Masisi is far beyond everyone's expectation. We will give them names, we will give them babies," said Professor Rees.
Agricultural development and food security minister, Dr Edwin Dikoloti, said the donation was made possible by a conducive environment resulting from consultative government.
Dr Dikoloti said it was worth noting that despite challenges, the farming community had found it worthy to appreciate efforts made by government in developing the sector. Minister Dikoloti also indicated that Botswana had been granted leave to export beef to China. The Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Mr Kabo Morwaeng was of the view that there were lessons associated with sharing.
Mr Morwaeng said even though exposed to difficult working conditions, farmers had proven to be hard working.
They showed resilience and strenuous drought situations, but survived to tell stories of hope in farming.
Source : BOPA