Saturday, September 19, 2020

Agric Ministry drafts guide document to grow sector

The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security is developing a document to assist interested stakeholders on agricultural opportunities in Botswana. 

The document, which is done in partnership with the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), seeks to be a guide on viable business opportunities that define market food trends and their contribution to the food import bill substitution.

Assistant Minister of Agriculture Beauty Manake in an interview told The Telegraph: “It is a document for start-up farmers, experienced farmers, investors and aspiring people who want to diversify their portfolio. We want to define the whole value chain so that we can fill the gaps which are opportunities in Botswana, focussing on what we can do and what we cannot do.” 

“It will also advice financiers, as banks need to understand this and other areas that have a potential for financing and it is us who can give them that information so that they can start mobilising finances,” Manake said.

A release date has not been set. 

The ministry has started to enable a conducive agricultural environment by analysing local production capabilities against the national demand and identifying agricultural commodities, which Botswana has as a comparative advantage to produce.

Agricultural production zones across the country have been identified, in a bid to implement them through cluster farming and formation of marketing cooperatives.

There are currently 11 Sub-Sectors with the Ministry of Agriculture, and the plan is to sustainably develop them to their maximum capability where they have comparative advantage. 

Manake said: “The report defines these subsectors as Cows, Grain commodities (cereals), Horticulture (fruits and vegetables), Poultry (eggs and meat), Piggery, Honey Production and Aquaculture (fish) to name a few. These are the opportunities we are talking about in our document to see which Agricultural opportunities are there locally and how do we give these opportunities to the people so that they can now go to CEDA or any other financier to get money and invest in them.”

“There are some investors from South Africa. We are also mobilising community clusters along Motloutse river from Mmadinare all the way to Bobonong. Government has already provided electricity along that area and we want to maximise by putting more infrastructure there to form this cluster for citrus production for the export market,” Junior Minister Manake said.

Quizzed on how different the new document is to existing similar ones produced by the likes of Botswana Investment Trade Centre, the minister highlighted a lack of synergy and information flow between ministries as challenge that would soon change. 

“We want the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry to take a leading role when it comes to trade of our commodities and we can focus on production. Trade can do its job which is finding and accessing markets for Batswana. We can focus on producing based on the market demand. Now that we will be working together, I believe the information flow will get better and people will get to appreciate more opportunities,” she said.

“How do we expect people to think outside the box when they do not know what is inside the box. So that is basically what we want to do, share as information so that people can get creative about something they know about instead of something they have never seen,” Manake said.

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