Botswana: Smart Agriculture Investment Ideal

Gaborone — President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi says government is keen to attract investment into climate smart agriculture therefore most policies and programmes are being reviewed to make them relevant to today's demands.

Addressing a virtual high-level dialogue on food security issues in Africa on April 29, President Masisi appealed for development partners support through capacity building, development transfer and dissemination of smart farming technologies.

"My country is ready to facilitate investors and innovators in this area," said Dr Masisi.

Noting that many African countries did not have the wherewithal of the much-needed smart-technologies and techniques for food and animal production, he said strengthening of partnerships and creating networks with international development partners, the private sector, civil society, researchers and experts was therefore a necessity.

"The Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 on 'Poverty Eradication' and 'Zero Hunger' respectively, require us to provide innovative solutions that will eliminate hunger and poverty in our continent. The African Union has set its own target to eliminate hunger and food insecurity by 2025. However, achieving this target is in the distant horizon," he said.

Dr Masisi said global warming and harsh climatic conditions in many African countries had made finding innovative solutions for farming and food production essential.

He said the dialogue's theme; 'Feeding Africa: Leadership to Scale up successful Innovation', could not have been more relevant for semi-arid Botswana, susceptible to drought, characterised by low and variable rainfalls, very hot temperatures as well as pest outbreaks.

Recurring droughts, he said, continued to undermine the country's capacity to produce drought resistant indigenous seeds for food production.

Dr Masisi said the mentioned challenges contributed to food shortages and a high food import bill.

Saying smart agriculture was therefore at the centre of Botswana's development efforts, the President said the country continued to apportion a significant budget to support the agricultural sector citing the P1.9 billion approved by Parliament in February.

To improve food security in the country, Dr Masisi said government had adopted disruptive Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies that would help to transition from conventional to smart farming and move from sustenance to commercial agriculture.

Dr Masisi said the country's long-term vision had identified agriculture as one of the key drivers for national transformation and government therefore sought to create a sustainable, technology driven and commercially viable sector.

"We have also adopted various policies and strategies to guide our interventions to revitalize our agriculture sector and improve our food systems and nutrition," he said.

The forum heard that Botswana had adopted a Climate Smart Agriculture Programme for 2015 to 2025 and was reviewing its National Policy on Agricultural Development to address emerging challenges and to ensure alignment with climate smart agricultural requirements.

Government had also invested in research, technology and innovation to develop drought tolerant crops and animals to enhance the resilience of Botswana's food systems, said the President.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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