Botswana horticulture farmers have intensified efforts to address the country’s high import bill.
This comes after statistics Botswana indicated that the country’s food import bill rose to P823.8 million in May this year.
The data also showed that this represents an increase of 11 percent compared to the P752 million spent on food in the period of January 2021.
Botswana horticulture council chairperson Boikaego Phole said farmers have finally responded to one of the challenges which hampered their efforts over the years, saying farmers were not able to produce products such as tomatoes and peppers during the winter season.
He stated that in response to this, farmers are now setting up tunnels and green houses in order to have tomatoes and peppers throughout the year without interruption.
“One of the challenges was that a lot of money was lost through importation of horticulture produce which retailers sourced from South Africa but I am happy now to say farmers have joined hands to set up tunnels and green houses to address that,”
“You will recall that during winter season, retailers source most of their produce from South Africa because locally, we are unable to have them, so that will now be a thing of the past and it will reduce the country’s import bill,” said Phole.
He stated that only a select few of farmers in the Pandamatenga area have been have been investing heavily in farming, adding that this has now motivated a good number of local farmers.
“There is a lot of money in this sector when you invest wisely, local farmers often get motivated by the money we spend in South Africa buying these produce, so that is why I can confidently tell you now that very soon, we will only have conditional importation.
He said as the council, they continue to hold workshops time and again to assess efforts made and also to see where best to assist in order to grow the horticulture sector.
“We are also working on gathering all local farmers in one place so that it is easier to do monitoring and also to back us up when engaging different stakeholders such government and retailers,” said Phole.
Phole noted that they made strides last year, saying that produce such as potatoes were imported on condition.
“We have revived our forum called traders and producers to show how serious we are with contributing to the reduction of import bill, so we hope that next year, there will be much better improvement,” stated Phole.