Sunday, July 25, 2021

Govt, FOA seek to strengthen value chains in Agric sub sectors

The Government alongside the Food and Agriculture Organization have developed two Technical Cooperation Projects aimed at creating the necessary synergy for driving the activities of the Aquaculture, Inland Fisheries and beekeeping sub-sectors in Botswana.

This past week Government and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) revealed their projects for strengthening Botswana’s Apiculture (beekeeping) value chain through coordination and capacity development. As well as response to Covid-19 assistance to the Aquaculture and inland fisheries sectors of Botswana.

FAO will provide technical assistance to Botswana in the form of short-term experts and consultants, short-term practical training, or equipment and supplies related to training.

Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Karabo Gare said “fisheries resources play a significant socio-economic role in the SADC region and at national level. It is estimated that about 100 million people eat fish regularly in the SADC region and the gap between  fish supply and demand in most countries in the region is increasing exponentially  and is estimated to reach 570, 000MT per annum in the mid 2020’s. This shows the huge potential this sub-sector has in contributing to both food and nutrition security particularly for the poorer segments of the population if exploited.”

“In Botswana the current production of fish is 350tons annually which constitutes only 7% of the national demand which according to 2020 fish import statistics stands at about 5000 tons per annum. This therefore shows a deficit of 4650 tons which could be reduced by increasing aquaculture production,” Gare said.

Globally, aquaculture is the fastest growing meat production industry and is envisaged to reduce the demand for animal protein that is anticipated as a result of world population growth which is estimated to reach about 10 billion people by 2050.

Using SADC as a reference, Minister Gare shared how Marine and Inland Fisheries support over a million people and they contribute to employment creation, income generation and human welfare. All this is important for a region which faces a number of socio-economic challenges which among other things include extreme poverty, acute malnutrition, and a lack of alternative livelihoods especially for the rural poor and marginalized communities.

This therefore makes it necessary to develop best management practices for the management of aquatic resources especially the Okavango and Chobe river systems.

Meanwhile Beekeeping in Botswana is considered important in food production whether managed commercially or as wild bees. Bees are also important as pollinators of various agricultural crops globally.

Minister Gare said “the honeybee industry in Botswana has a great potential that could be leveraged as Botswana strive to move away from mineral based economy to a diversified economy. Unfortunately, the sector still remains widely untapped as most beekeepers in the rural areas still use traditional production techniques.”

“Currently Botswana produces only 13 percent (8.06 metric tons) of the national demand which is estimated at 62 metric tons and the deficit is met through importation. In 2019, Botswana imported around 130 metric tons of honey which translates to 7. 7 million pula. Of these imports, 72 percent came from South Africa, 15 percent from India while 11 percent  came from Zambia,” Gare said.

Since NDP 9 the ministry has embarked on promoting honey production. Some of the efforts funded by European Union were geared at establishing community based projects among others. These initiatives have led to insignificant increase in local production which does not meet the estimated national demand, due to lack of a well-defined honey value chain.

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