The Chief Executive Officer of the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency, Thabo Thamane, has highlighted a number of challenges that hamper the growth of the small to medium scale farmers including exposure to high risks as many insurers are not keen to cover them.
The CEO of the government underpinned Development Finance Institution noted that the problems are compounded by the fact that the majority of the farmers in the country are in the bracket of small and medium scale which he said it is a sensitive portfolio.
“We have the mandate to assist them using the best possible appraisal, funding, monitoring and mentoring methods,” he said.
Speaking at the Mastering Appraisal of SME Agribusiness Projects on Monday, Thamane said entrepreneurship development is and shall remain the key ingredient for most developing countries such as Botswana.
He is of the view that agriculture in Botswana is at its infancy stages and added that it generates under 2 to the GDP. He pointed out that it is despite the 40 percent contribution it made at independence.
“Most of the GDP share was taken up by the mining sector over time. The government is worried by these obvious reasons,” he stated.
Amongst the major challenges, he noted that Botswana is a landlocked and semi-arid country. He said rainfall patterns, especially with the imminent global warming threat are not reliable. Thamane added that, as such most of the financiers are not very willing to participate in the space, especially the green fields.
“Our government alone cannot win the war of food security. The responsibility of feeding the 1.1 billion Africans lies with us despite the unique hurdles that we have to face in the process,” said Thamane.
He is also of the view that government’s role is to ensure that businessman’s environment investment is operated in the most conducive environment possible through policy and legislation.
He emphasised that the government has over the years indicated keen interest in facilitated the paradigm shift of privatizing most arms of the economy. He added that it is evident through the establishment BITC, BDC, LEA and PEEPA. ┬á
“Through forums, we should not only focus on the specific training, but leverage on the platform to also network, brainstorm and discuss solutions and opportunities that lie in the arena called agriculture,” he added.
The workshop was CEDA partnership product with Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI) and the SADC Development Finance Resource Centre (SADC DFRC) as part of the trio’s common goals of building appropriate human capital capacity and learnership opportunities among the continent’s Development Finance Institutions (DFIs).