Monday, June 14, 2021

Botswana to review 30 year old Agric Development policy

Almost clocking 30 years, the country’s Agricultural Development Policy which was put in place in 1991 is being considered for a possible facelift.

Word from the government enclave indicate that the Agricultural Development Policy is under review and is expected to be sent to a sub-cabinet committee known as Economic Committee for appreciation and further refinement. The policy is expected to then make another stop at Parliament as well as other relevant committees before implementation.

The Telegraph has learnt that critical areas the policy will intend to address will among others include defining creating new legislature to enable ease of agricultural production and ease of doing business as well as not forgetting review of old laws. It will also help define the meaning of food security, food self-reliance and an export led economy. What is needed to achieve the food security, self-reliance on production by identifying the basic needs such as Agricultural land, water for agricultural purposes, infrastructure developments and commercialisation of the agricultural sector among to name a few.

The move to review the Agric policy, according to a junior minister at the Agriculture Ministry – Beauty Manake came after the realisation that for Botswana to achieve her Food security and self-reliance goals the policy need to be revamped.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Manake said in order for Botswana to achieve food security and self-reliance on food production, the starting point is to reduce the food import bill.

Manake said the bulk of Botswana’s import bill comes from the buying of processed food in meats, mealies, canned food stuff and all the foods that have been value added.

“There is need to facilitate the agric processing industry and that has been catered for under the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan”, said Manake.

The Ministry has further developed a detailed three year plan under the Economic Response and transformation Plan (ERTP) that looks at all the sectors to inform the future strategies the Ministry may undertake post Covid 19.

“The process also involves undertaking an initiative to review the subsidy programs to re-check their relevance and the level of impact they contribute to growing the sector. The current agricultural development policy is 19 years old as it was formulated in 1991 and a lot of things have since changed. The purpose of a policy is determined by the objectives and outputs that have an impact to Batswana lives,” Manake said.

Still last week at Parliament, the Member of Parliament for Nata-Gweta asked the Agriculture Ministry if there are any detailed future plans within the Ministry post Covid 19 for food security development and if there have been any consultations with stakeholders to improve the Ministry.

“Ministry of Agriculture has developed a NAIP framework which identifies the priority investment areas around agriculture to enable its sustainable development in Botswana. To focus on infrastructural development to and in production areas be it in arable farming, livestock production, horticulture, honey production. To identify disease and pest outbreaks that might affect the agricultural sector both in pastoral and arable farming. To promote sustainable agricultural development through exploring value chains and the industrialisation of the food systems around agricultural production areas,” Manake said.

The Ministry has identified sub-sectors that have production potential and opportunities for capacity building for import substitution, as Botswana is estimated to be importing over P7.74 billion worth of food annually.

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