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President Mokgweetsi Masisi has revealed that government is working around the clock to fix the challenges that Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) is facing for the benefit of the local farmers.
Currently the beef industry is the only sub-sector of the agriculture sector that has constantly remained a significant contributor to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), though it has been declining over the years.
Speaking at the Serowe District show, in the pipeline in addressing the challenges that BMC and local farmers are facing Masisi said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Agriculture, Research and Food Security and National Strategic Office (NSO) are working together to address all related issues. He said BMC is too important for the economy to die.
“From time to time the biggest challenge is the outbreak of foot and mouth diseases in a lot of zones in the country,” said Masisi.
Masisi further spoke of the importance to meet the international standards regarding export of the Botswana Beef to European Union (EU). He stated that EU is one of the key markets for Botswana’s exportation of beef. He added that the outbreak of FMD is usually through contact between wild animals and livestock around the country.
Masisi stated that speeding up land allocation is also key to the agribusiness. He said linking farmers to the market should be a priority for any agricultural programme that aims at poverty reduction. He added that despite government efforts to grow the sector and improve production through schemes such as ISPAAD and LIMID, smallholder farmers still engage in low input agriculture, leading to low productivity and production.
For his part CEDA Cheif Exeutive Officer (CEO) Thabo Thamane the sluggish growth of the Agribusiness Sector is largely due to a number of challenges that the farmers have been facing in the recent years such as the frequent and abrupt closure of Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) due to various reasons, natural disasters (floods, drought, disease and pests’ outbreaks.) and late payment by Government Agencies procuring from farmers.
Thamane said in commitment to capacity building and commercialization of the sector, CEDA continues to fund businesses in the sector year on year despite the challenges it faces.
He revealed that in the financial year alone the Agency has funded 152 businesses in the sector at a value of P162 million. He added that in particular focus to this region CEDA has invested P323.2 million on 422 agricultural projects through the Palapye branch since its inception.
“We continue to train and mentor its customers for free. Some farmers are eve exposed to foreign markets through relationships established with similar organisations across the world,”said Thamane.
He said the Agency where possible encourage farmers to form clusters that would enable them to share resources hence bringing down their cost of production. He added that a pilot of the cluster system is planned for small scale dryland farmers in the Pandamatenga area.