While recruitment of key staff is on-going and the Chief Executive is already in office, the official launch of a research company under the Agriculture ministry has been put on hold.
The National Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARDI) has been in existence for atleast three years now, but the public remains in the dark on its operations.
Minister responsible for Agriculture – Karabo Gare last week told Parliament that the initial intention was to get NARDI operational by April this year.
Gare said due to the continued effects of COVID 19 on the ministry’s budget, the plan to launch and operationalize NARDI has been halted.
“Our commitment to NARDI’s formation continues which is why we have opted to going about it in a phased manner and eventually it will become its own entity. It is very important in our plans”, Gare told Parliament last week.
While the founding Chief Executive – Dr Bernard Bulawayo was hired in 2018, NARDI was born in November 2013 following a Presidential directive.
The entity was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in 2018 after MoA merged the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) with the Botswana National Veterinary Laboratory (BNVL) as well as NFTRC. The merger of the said government department and a parastatal – NFTRC was predicted to be complete before the end of fiscal year 2020/21. It is envisaged that under NARDI the services previously offered by NFTRC, DAR and BNVL will be effectively decentralized across the country to support stakeholders from the vantage point of cluster-focused, community based regional research centers.
Once fully operational, NARDI is expected to offer amongst other things specialised agricultural research and development innovation centers as well as testing and diagnostic laboratories and agri-business incubation centers around the country.
It also emerged that NARDI will operate along key research thematic areas focused on horticulture, field crops, floriculture, industrial crops, ornamental plants, fodder, livestock production, animal health and Bio systems engineering.
“We can’t progress without research, especially in food processing. If you look at our imports we use about P7, 745 billion annually on processed food. This is an opportunity for Batswana, as the P7, 745 billion of purchase can create a lot of jobs and this shows we export P7,745 billion worth of jobs”, Gare said in Parliament last week.
Meanwhile during the 2021/22 national budget NARDI is expected to share P2 99 432 810 with the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board, Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.