Friday, July 10, 2020

Botswana looks to China for Food security

Without question China is continuously becoming an important piece of the world puzzle, if not for the significant share of the world economy that it has amassed then for the contribution it makes to the global growth. 

Official figures shows that over the past five years China’s share in the global economy grew to roughly 15 percent, up from 11.4 percent and its contribution to global growth exceeded 30 percent. It would be remiss to make a like for like comparison between China and Botswana, for the obvious reason that one is a beast economy with an influential stake in the world and the other a participant in the world economy without a seat at the top table

This week it emerged that there is one other way that China can play an important role in Botswana’s economy – development of the agriculture sector. 

The Botswana Government directed its hopes towards the Chinese government to assist with utilising green climate funds and climate smart solutions for the economic development of the vital sector.

Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Edwin Dikoloti represented Botswana in China for the first Forum on China Africa Agricultural Cooperation (FOCACA). FOCACA is a sectoral forum under the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). FOCACA is a forum on China Africa unilateral cooperation and it is tasked with deliberating on the Agricultural economic and trade cooperation.

For Botswana agriculture remains pivotal to sustainable development and it is the main source of food for rural livelihoods. During his visit to the Asian continent for the FOCAC Minister of agricultural, Edwin Dikoloti said “like other African countries Botswana looks forward to Chinese support in joint implementation of climate change, adaptation and mitigation policies. We appeal for greater support and partnerships to access green climate funds and green technologies.”

“There also exists a window of opportunity from the abundant sunlight that Botswana receives and we are therefore ready to harness its resources and convert it to solar energy. To this end we strongly seek partnerships and collaborations in these key technologies that will make our farms more habitable hence attracting more youth to participate in Agriculture,” Dikoloti said.

Despite its importance the Agricultural sector faces numerous threats brought about by climate. Minister Dikoloti shared that “these threats manifests in many forms such as floods, cyclones and droughts. For us in Botswana, droughts are at the forefront in devastating effects not only threatening food security but also dissipating our plants, domestic and wild animals to calamitous proportions.”

“The other constraint that hampers optimal economic and trade cooperation is the limited poor and disjointed infrastructure that curtails the flow of cooperation across markets. Furthermore impediment to economic and trade cooperation for agriculture in small developing countries like Botswana, is the limited ability and capacity to meaningfully exploit the abundant opportunities within the Agri-value chain. In spite of the Agricultural wealth and varied resources,” Dikoloti said.

The Agriculture Ministry made an open call for investors to consider Botswana as government is eagerly ready to work hand in hand with them. 

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.