Barclays Bank Botswana has collaborated with Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) on a project that is aimed at attaining sustainable preventative control of animal diseases for the purpose of improving rural livelihoods in Africa.
The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has endorsed and commended the joint effort, saying it demonstrates how Botswana is pioneering sustainable agriculture in Africa. MoA also said the project is in line with the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s global framework for better control of trans-boundary diseases.
Barclays Managing Director (MD), Reinette van der Merwe expressed optimism that the benefits that will arise from this effort are multidimensional as various socio-economic groups will be positively impacted. She added that beneficiaries will range from small farmers who rely on their livestock for income, to livestock traders and the general public who will have peace of mind as they will be better protected against the effects of livestock-related diseases.
“The demand for food and livestock products continues to grow exponentially with increased populations, providing an opportunity for Botswana and neighbouring countries to make a contribution towards global agricultural sustainability,” she said.
She further said Africa will remain a focal area for Barclays as it is one of the strongest growth regions in the world.
“Barclay’s footprint across Africa positions the bank well to capture the continent’s growth opportunities. We operate on an integrated basis across Africa bringing significant benefits to the continent,” she said.
She revealed that the partnership will engage Heads of Missions and other stakeholders from various African states, as both BVI and Barclays establish an environment that allows for adequate supply of high quality vaccines.
A large majority of African communities rely on agriculture for their livelihood and livestock accounts for over 30 percent of agricultural GDP, offering opportunities for sustainable economic development, social well-being, food security and nutrition. However, the prevalence of high impact infectious Trans-boundary Animal Diseases (TADs) such as foot and mouth results in under-performance and subdued productivity within the agricultural sector. The diseases also leave humans vulnerable to health risks, as reflected in the increase of diseases such as anthrax, rabies and TB.
For his part, Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia commended the initiative by Barclays and BVI, saying it demonstrates Botswana’s pioneering efforts in advancing sustainability of the agricultural sector in Africa.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has seen the devastating effects which diseases like foot and mouth have had on animal health and agricultural sectors. The collaboration between Barclays and BVI demonstrates how private-public partnerships are vital to successfully tackle our common cross-border challenges,” he said.