Agriculture is still a favourite subject among policy makers

10 Aug 2017

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Kenneth Matambo, has alluded to the fact that there exists market failures which necessitate transformation of the agricultural landscape from subsistence to advanced commercial farming by effectively developing local farmers.

Matambo was speaking at the 2017 African Caucus meeting which was held in Gaborone last week. The two-day meeting chaired by Matambo comprising African governors, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) discussed economic transformation and job creation, with a focus on Agriculture and Agri-business in Africa.

The issues discussed included agricultural policy foundations: reforms and agenda; agricultural technologies, private sector participation, value chains, and sustainable job creation for youth and women; agriculture infrastructure financing and financial inclusion.

Botswana is generally included among countries that have contributed a significant amount of its public spending to the agricultural sector but the results, on the other hand, have not reflected such investments. One of the problems previously identified is the failure to target assistance to farmers and the example used was that of ISPAAD which replaced Arable Land Development Programme (ALDEP) in 2008.

ISPAAD is a programme designed to enhance technology adoption. A revised guidelines paper by the Ministry of Agriculture had identified that “the current farming system in Botswana does not categorise farmers to their level and area of production hence farmers are assisted equally under ISPAAD. To this end farmers do not get appropriate assistance for their level of operation and production. Hence the need to categorise farmers and to package appropriate subsidies according to their level of production.”

Closing the meeting Matambo said that during the two day period the meeting covered proposals for identifying the market failures as well as linking producers to international markets through robust chains. “Our deliberations also touched on the concept of a minimum percentage of public expenditure to agriculture. There was a consensus however, that the ratio –for example 10 percent should be reviewed given the inter-linkages between the agricultural sector and other sectors of the economy as well as efficiency of expenditure. Our deliberations also included the need to ensure appropriate macroeconomic policies and investment in infrastructure,” said Matambo.

A draft memorandum was drawn, during the meeting to which the minister said; “The memorandum, which shall be adopted in October 2017 reflects on common position and priority areas support from the Bretton Woods Institutions.”