Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Motsaalore Motone: The motivated young farmer yearning to feed the nation

Young farmers across the globe have taken up the challenge of continuing their family agribusiness. To be successful, this generation also applies clever strategies to counter misconceptions, generate society’s trust and stay connected.

Available statistics shows that in Africa, where 60 percent of the continent’s population is under 24, the average age of farmers is 60 years old, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Due to the world’s expanding but aging population, more farmers will be needed to ensure the food security of almost ten billion people expected by 2050 ÔÇô new blood is critical.

In Botswana, there was never a question that, Motsaalore Motone (25) ÔÇô a descendant of a farmer would have to get his hands dirty and learn how to grow food.

“I do not know what else I can do besides farming. After my Father decided to leave it while I was still at Primary School I realised that I could pick up where he left so I resumed the business when I was doing Form 4”.

The young Motone is certain that farming is a challenging vocation which needs patience and dedication. He says he now has his father as his mentor and other two employees.

“Since my father has been a farmer for a long time, he has some skills and experience and he is always around, helping as a supervisor and showing us how he expects things to be done.”

To date, Motone’s horticulture business, which is operated from Guloshabe lands, some 30 kilometers away from Shashe River has found its ground. Motone’s business lists leading retailers Choppies, Pick n Pay and Spar amongst its clientele.

Amongst other products, Motone produces and sells cabbage, maize, butternuts and onions which he says are “self-marketing”.

“How horticulture is marketed is not the same as how other businesses are marketed. We just make quality vegetables and go to the buyers, making sure that the quality of our products beats what they have been having,” said Motone.

He adds that the only hurdle his business is currently facing is that of transportation of the produce as he owns a small vehicle which is not even in a good state. As a result, Motone has resorted to truck hiring which comes at an extra cost to the business.

He admits, “I have market all over and I plant enough for the market but my biggest problem is that I am failing to deliver.”

Despite the rough sector that he operates under, the 25 year old says he is grateful to the government for bringing electricity to their farms because there is much difference in using electricity as compared to using diesel as the latter was too costly for them.

To kick start his project, Mokone got a financial assistance from the government through the Youth Fund administered by the Ministry of Youth.

While he uses some of the proceeds to repay the loan, Motone has also enrolled for a part time Diploma in Accounting and Business Studies (DABS) with the University of Botswana.

Meanwhile according to Statistics on Agricultural Produce with South Africa (SAPSA), collected between January and December 2017 by Statistics Botswana (SB), the country imported vegetables worth over BWP178 million, but only made BWP950, 703.00 in export of the same product to South Africa (SA). Should farmers like Motone excel, Botswana would spend less on imports and export more for a change.

Also the Ministry of Agriculture’s Division of Research and Statistics says, about 69 percent of the population benefits from agriculture as farmers, labourers or both. However, due to regular and prolonged droughts, the Ministry states that both crops and livestock have not been performing as expected.

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