Monday, September 28, 2020

Aquaculture, a missed opportunity for Batswana as big guns eyes the industry

The government has been advised to subsidise Batswana who are eager to venture into aquaculture as big companies with financial muscles eye the industry that has remained untapped for decades. 

There has never been a significant investment in aquaculture in Botswana as result of governance issues and poorly-thought management approaches to develop the industry to contribute to food and nutrition security.

The University Of Botswana Okavango Research Centre (ORC) fisheries biologist argues that due to costs input associated with the industry individual Batswana will not be able to venture in the industry.  

One of Botswana listed stock exchange Company Chobe Holdings has already announced in their latest financial results that they have bought a 22% equity stake in Golden Wrap (Pty) LTD an aquaculture and crop farming entity operating in Kasane. According to the company the equity contribution will stand at P6 million when fully paid.

According to Food Agriculture Organisation globally fish is a key livelihood source for over 500 million people and is a source of nutrition for approximately 3 billion people.

ORC , Fisheries Biologist ,Ketlhatlogile Mosepele argues that  though the industry has remained untapped it is not a go area for individual as result of input cost associated with the business.

“Aquaculture is expensive for individual Batswana who might want to invest in that industry unless the government subsidise those individuals who want to get into such business” added Mosepele.

 He explained that the private sector with their financial muscle can invest in aquaculture as opposed to individual Batswana.

Mosepele indicated that the government had once shown interest in promoting fish farming in Botswana but that did not work for some time.

 

Mosepele gave the example of fish hatchery that was built in Letsibogo dam by government.

He indicated that the hatchery which is artificial breeding was meant to provide fishing enterprises with juvenile fish.

 According to him the problem is the policies that seem to be in contradiction.

“Fisheries department has been under the Ministry of Environment and Wildlife which promotes conservation while the fishing industry itself is about production. This contradictory policy has hindered the growth of the industry”, added Mosepele.

 Mosepele indicated that contradictory policies has led to the industry not take shape.

In his  research paper titled “Fisheries governance, management and marginalisation in developing countries: Insights from Botswana” Mosepele state that invariably  insufficient data create misconceptions about the value of this sector to national planning officers who then fail to see the importance of the sector in national development planning processes.

 He stated in the paper that small-scale fisheries have a marginal contribution to the macro-economic landscape of most African economies as compared to other sectors like agriculture and tourism as in the case of Botswana.

Mosepele explained that therefore modest contributions of small-scale fisheries to national GDPs have led to the marginalisation of this sector in national development planning.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.