The Debswana Diamond Mining Company, the world’s largest diamond producer by value, has splashed over half a million pula on Agricultural shows with a view of promoting the sector at a time when the world is grappling with food shortages.
On behalf of the Debswana Diamond Mining Company, Sebetlela Sebetlela, the Orapa Mine General Manager, handed over the P600 000 cheque to the Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Shaw Kgathi, at the official opening of the Bobirwa District Show, which was held last week under the theme ‘Technology Adoption Is The Key To Agricultural Adoption’.
“The theme for this show is very appropriate since modern technology can help farmers determine exactly how much they can make from a given size of land. It is also through such events that people can learn new and better ways of farming,” said the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs, Peter Siele, who officiated at this event.
A few years ago, Debswana abandoned its trail-blazing farming activities in the Chobe area. It had aimed at show-casing modern technological developments in farming and improving the crop yield of the country.
“It is therefore essential for everyone to ensure that agriculture improves. Although Botswana’s economy is heavily reliant on diamonds, Debswana is committed to efforts towards the diversification of the economy as we are one and the same with Batswana,” he said.
Mining is the back-bone of Botswana’s economy contributing about 33 percent of the GDP, over 50 percent of government revenue and 70 percent of exports. The other possible engine for growth is the fledgling tourism industry. At independence, agriculture was the mainstay of the economy but now contributes less than three percent to the GDP although a great number of people are dependent on it at subsistence level.
The move comes at a time when the Francistown abattoir is open for the slaughter of Bobirwa cattle after a prolonged ban as a result of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
The disease is common in the northern parts of the country as cattle from ZimbabweÔÇöwhere the disease is not under controlÔÇöeasily cross into Botswana.
Sebetlela pointed out that the objective of the sponsorship was to boost the Agricultural Show prizes which had been quite low.
“With this sponsorship, we also want to motivate and encourage more farmers to participate at the shows as this is perceived as an effective way for information sharing amongst farmers,” he said.
The sponsorship was first launched last year at the Ghantsi Agricultural Show; it is said to have sparked interest among farmers and caused increased participation.