The Director of Agricultural Research, Dr Maphanyane, has urged farmers to stop individual marketing and market their agricultural products as a group. She also recommended to farmers that they should explore new ventures that could boost commercial agriculture.
Speaking at the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) Agribusiness breakfast meeting held at the GICC, Maphanyane stated that regions face tight competition because of the limited agricultural resources. She said agricultural policies promote production more than anything else.
“We should start adding value, meaning we should start using one commodity to produce several products,” said Maphanyane. “For instance, from sorghum we can make biscuits and sorghum meal.
From maize, we can make maize meal and cornflakes.” She added that Batswana should have products that are unique to them so as to help them compete internationally.
Maphanyane said, to avoid competition between foreigners and local farmers, certain conditions should be set. She advised Batswana to start hunting outside the box and to look for unfamiliar things.
Furthermore, Maphanyane said in Botswana technology is the domain of the government. She said Batswana should start to use science and traditional skills to develop products that can commercialize agriculture.
“I believe that tourism and mining can provide a good interface to agriculture and that the future of agriculture comes from innovation,” she said.
Giving the example of diamonds, Maphanyane said jewelries should be designed in a way that is similar to our agricultural products. Maphanyane said the provision of key services is still a challenge.
Talking about his experience with the BDC, Rom Smet, of Hortulus, a greenhouse vegetable farm which produces English cucumbers, stated that BDC had been their partner, willing to take the leap and believing in the possibilities. Smet stressed that there is a potential if the farmers do it right.
“Farming can produce money if given proper consideration, using techniques adapted to Botswana and applying adequate knowledge,” said Smet.