Australia — The Africa Down Under conference that President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his delegation attended in Perth, Australia, also provided the Ministry of Agriculture with an opportunity to gain insight into different down streams and sectors.
In an interview, Minister of Agriculture, Mr Fidelis Molao said part of their mission was to engage and explore the possibilities of cooperation between the two countries.
He noted that Australia and Botswana shared similar climatic conditions and that certain breeds of animals and plants were likely to do well in the two countries that were susceptible to intense drought and high temperatures.
He said follow-up visits would be undertaken in an endeavour to diversify the agricultural space by adopting new technologies and infrastructure that could position the sector for competition in the global village
He said they had set a target to increase the national cattle herd from the current 1.2 million to 3 million by 2027 in order to meet the European market quota among other priorities.
He added that the ministry had embarked on a national project to address the declining national herd and to improve the genetics by using available technologies.
Mr Molao also said government had previously purchased semen from the United States before buying cattle that was taken to the Ramatlabama National Artificial Insemination Laboratory to enable all Batswana across the country to buy semen cheaply.
He said the delegation had the opportunity to draw lessons from one of Australia's renowned farmers, Mr Michael Thompson who breeded the Munda Reds Droughtmaster that thrived in conditions similar to those in Botswana.
He said the cattle breed had good fertility and was adaptable to varying weather conditions.
"We have come to the conclusion that it is one of the best breeds that can be introduced to farmers at home as it can also adjust easily to new environments," he said.
Mr Molao also said they purchased the semen of the Wangu cattle breed that had proved to be the best quality beef in the world.He said the meat was tasty and tender, highly marbled and juicy, adding that it would add flavour to the local beef that was also highly regarded around the globe.
He said they also intended to import life Munda Reds Droughtmaster cattle in order to collect semen and sell to Batswana at subsidised prices. Permanent secretary in the ministry, Ms Nancy Chengeta concurred that the droughtmaster and Wangu breeds would perform well in local conditions.
She noted the delegation comprised key stakeholders in the agricultural sector in order to holistically engage on a broad spectrum of issues in an effort to improve the sector.