The Acting Vice Chancellor of the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), Professor Khumoetsile Mmolawa has said that the Sebele based institutions is currently faced with various problems amongst them financial.
The government ceiling has in the past years reportedly pegged BUAN at budget of around P120 million which significantly lower than the actual budget which reaches over P250 million.
“Research and development results take long to show, so for political decision makers it might seem better to prioritize investing more on other developmental projects. So we have to seek research funding from outside,” explained Professor Mmolawa. He gave example of some research projects, sponsored by the Southern African Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASCCAL). These are sponsored with amounts totaling around P7million.
Professor Mmolawa said they have strategy retreat scheduled for October because the university’s council is also concerned about the shortage of funds which impedes research progress. From that retreat they hope to come up with means of sourcing out funds and executing research projects that will bring monetary yields.
His deputy, Professor Rejoice Tsheko explained that the university has outreach projects which it has done for a while; even before it was turned into a university. These include a rainwater harvesting project they implemented in conjunction with SGP/GEF UNDP at Gakuto village in Kweneng district. Others include an animal clinic accessed by Gaborone and surrounding areas as well as desertification encroachment project.
Both professors emphasized the need for intensive research to help abate the impacts of climate change which cannot be divorced from the agricultural disciplines. To show the institution’s commitment to tacking climate change they have added faculty of natural resources. Environmental Science is also included. Altogether the university has five faculties: Agriculture, Science, Natural Resources, Veterinary and animal sciences.
They explained that there will be transition allowance to allow students who were already enrolled under the Associate institution- Botswana College of Agriculture; accredited by University of Botswana. The university has since February 2016 become an independent university-BUAN. This obviously means expansion of facilities and everything else. It has 1300 students currently and once it is fully operational it will house 5000.
The press conference was called to help disseminate information on what the university does, the open day it held on the 19th September as well as trumpet the inauguration of its Chancellor, Lt Gen Dr Ian Khama in October.