Botswana: Agric Productivity Priority - Gare

Gaborone — Government's priority for agriculture in the National Development Plan (NDP) 11 will be to promote agricultural productivity with a view to stimulate growth to significantly achieve self-sufficiency on most commodities that can be produced locally.

This was said by Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Karabo Gare, when presenting the ministry's NDP 11 Mid-term Review under the thematic areas of economy and employment in Parliament.

He said government intended to take agricultural productivity to higher levels by embracing transformation, ICT, modern technologies of agricultural production, research and development and collaboration with agricultural development partners locally, regionally, and internationally.

Mr Gare stated that in an effort to facilitate effective and efficient management of agriculture, government would prioritise the development of ICT infrastructure in agriculture.

He said Botswana Agricultural Information Management System (BAIMS) was being developed to unlock different agribusiness opportunities.

"This will be a major factor in revolutionising the local agricultural industry, thereby improving production, productivity and access to markets," he stated.

The programme, he said, would entail the use of such technologies as virtual markets and precision farming using drones, amongst others.

Mr Gare also informed Parliament that in order to address the limitations in the agricultural sector, the ministry was developing a robust policy shift to unlock the agricultural sector's potential to make it sustainable and competitive.

In this regard, he said the revision of 1991 National Policy on Agricultural development was nearing completion and should be ready to be tabled during the end of year sitting of Parliament.

Furthermore, Mr Gare said several initiatives aimed at increasing local production capabilities were being carried out.

These entail identifying agricultural production zones, profiling of farmers and their segmentation to direct output based programmes as well as drastic up-scaling of assistance to horticultural farming.

Other initiatives include potential agricultural commodities that Botswana might have comparative advantage on, supporting local dairy production systems and availing land for fodder and incentivising farming on dairy.

Furthermore, he said the ministry would also implement the Beef Cluster and Dairy Strategies, whose objective was to transform the industry to be competitive and sustainable.

In doing so, he said there would be establishment of fodder production projects in strategic areas in the country to enable feeding of the animals.

"The outcome would be cattle producers who are able to produce more uniform consistent quality beef and dairy products. This will entail upgrading production systems such as improving animal genetics and strategically positioning the products in markets," he stated.

With regard to improved production, he said the ministry had embarked on infrastructure development in production areas.

He said electrification of production areas such as MOSISEDI farms, Gulushabe and Motloutse River bank projects had been completed and that construction of internal roads and drainage systems at Pandamatenga was completed in 2019.

Minister Gare stated that construction of roads to production areas such as Kanye-Ditojana and Kadue-Phuduhudu was achieved, as well as construction of three service centres at Sefhare, Mmathethe and Gumare, with the Sefhare one complete and operational.

Furthermore, he said there was establishment of three grey water irrigation schemes at Mahibitswane, Radihemelo and Mahalapye.

During the first half of NDP 11 a total of P3.8bn was spent implementing projects.

Minister Gare said a further P2.6bn would be required to complete ongoing projects and programmes and an additional P1.7bn to cater for the new initiatives under Economic Transformation and Recovery for for the remaining part of the plan.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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