For some time now, the tourism industry has been hampered by lack of readily available land and, to address this problem, the government has set up a tourism “Land Bank” with the support of the Ministry of Lands and Housing, in order to make land readily available for tourism development.
Addressing the first session of the tenth parliament of Botswana, President Ian Khama assured the nation that his government remains committed to ensuring that local communities are involved in and derive direct benefits from the sustainable benefits of local resources.
The tourism industry, which has emerged as a significant growth factor in the country’s economy, accounts for an estimated 23 000 jobs, at the same time contributing P10 billion to the economy.
The sector has for a long time been largely based on wildlife. However, Khama stated that “during NDP1O, the approach will be to focus on product and geographical diversification, while seeking to promote domestic, as well as international consumption”.
The president further stated that, in line with diversifying the tourism products, The Botswana Tourism Board (BTB) is coordinating the development of heritage sites and other areas of interest, with the intention of marketing them as tourism destinations.
One of the issues that has always been rampant in the tourism industry is the human-wildlife conflict in which farming communities complained of large carnivores such as lions and leopards killing their livestock. To address the problem, the president said “the compensation rates were recently reviewed to address farmers’ concerns and implementation of the reviewed rates commenced on April 2009”.
He further promised that the Predator Management Strategy, which is still being finalized, will be implemented to see that strategies undertaken are feasible, economic and ecologically acceptable.
Meanwhile, the President also stated that the Agricultural sector is going through a lift off through the establishment of the Agricultural Hub, whose key projects, among other things, will be to act as a catalyst for the greater commercialization and diversification of the sector, as well as to improve food security. Other projects are the third phase of the National Agricultural Master Plan for Arable and Dairy Development Project, and efforts to improve the National Beef Herd, including the restructuring of the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).
The President said through NAMPAAD, the production target for the sorghum and maize provision will be 50% of the country’s requirements, 80% of fresh fruits and vegetables and 45% of liquid milk.
To implement the programme, the second phase of the training farms established through NAMPAAD, will be facilitated to operate as business entities in their own while at the same time continuing to provide practical training.
The Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) will also be continued in the coming season. Through it, the area under cultivation in the country expanded threefold to 298, 300 hectares; with this year’s cereal production improving compared to last year, to 67, 482 metric tons.