Saturday, September 19, 2020

LEA’s hand still showing with small farmers

The Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has continued with its effort to teach Batswana agricultural entrepreneurs to use modern-day, techniques that are commercially viable and can lead to national food sufficiency in horticultural products.

This past week, in partnership with Stanbic Bank Botswana, the authority awarded another batch of graduates under its incubation program at the Glen Valley just on the outskirts of the capital Gaborone.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, LEA Chief Executive Officer, Racious Moatshe said the Glen Valley incubator has to date produced over 150 graduates who are currently engaged in production country wide.

He noted, “It is therefore my sincere hope that the current cohort of graduates will join the production space with the zeal and outmost commitment desired of the 21st century entrepreneur, which commitment will in turn yield quality output that can be absorbed in the high worth market.”

Yet Moatshe urged the graduates to be ready to rise to challenges as upon graduation, graduates will face more challenging environments, different from the setup at Glen Valley where everything is pre-arranged.

Further the Head of Enterprise at Stanbic Bank, Onkabetse Morapedi said, “The graduates having been exposed to different technologies like greenhouses and drip irrigation, that improve output of the horticulture commodities, are equipped to make a significant difference in the horticulture sector.”

Adding that Stanbic pride itself in helping their clients through their growth journeys the reason why they saw this initiative as worthwhile, and why they continue to partner with LEA as a means to making progress real.

Doctor Otsoseng Oagile who was among the judging criteria said, the methods and infrastructure that the Glen Valley Incubator uses to train their clients are used internationally to address challenges similar to those found locally such as extreme temperatures, limited irrigation water and unfavourable soils amongst others.

“This exposure has enabled graduates to make informed decisions on the choice of technologies that are relevant to their environment or farm and that reduces the risk of project failure due to lack of experience on the technologies,” he noted.

He says the judging of the project considered both technical and business management aspects, which were assessed to determine the winners.

Highlighting that the prize money which was awarded to the top 10 graduates is intended to assist the entrepreneurs to start horticulture businesses upon completion of the incubation programme.

Where the bank this year has sponsored a total prize money of P100 000.00 on the top 10 graduates and position one, Keneilwe Mpho Mmopiemang scooped P20 000. 00 while position 10, Dimakatso Lekgotla got P5 000. 00.

Meanwhile since their partnership LEA has received an increasing number of trainees, having recorded an additional 32 between 2016 and 2018. In 2016 there only had 27 graduates while this year they had 42 graduates. The completion of the incubation programme takes 9 months.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.