Molepolole village will in a few months be home to an Agribusiness college named Entrepreneurial Agricultural Techniques (EAT); to be housed at the former Mpepu Private Secondary School premises; this is according to the college’s General Manager, Keatametse Mosinki.
Mosinki said in an interview with this publication that it is just a matter of completing course modules and awaiting the go ahead from the accreditation entity , Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) and the college will be up and running. He said the idea to come up with the college was triggered by the seemingly ailing state of affairs of agricultural projects mainly due to lack of entrepreneurial skills. EAT is therefore intended to close the gap which exists between government’s efforts and beneficiaries of the concerned programs. As soon as they graduate, he said, they will be able to compile their own business plans and all matters business related. Since not all are entrepreneurs, he anticipates that others would be able to work in farms without strict supervision. “If you go along this Gaborone-Molepolole highway you will find lots of chicken farms which have closed down. In fact, along every highway you travel along you will find this paining reality that entrepreneurship is lacking. Government’s coffers will end up depleted, given that the country is just recovering from recession,” said Mosinki.
He said farmers especially those in horticulture do not know how to market their produce. Some, he added, cannot approach chain stores and negotiate for supply contract. Instead they take the vegetables they have produced expensively and display them in open market where the scorching sun deteriorates the quality until they attract no customers. They do not know how to compete for market, he concluded. Mosinki further pointed out the fact that graduates from existing agricultural institutions are jacks of all trades and masters of none. “This college is going to produce farmer entrepreneurs. Here students are going to study for specific two years Diplomas in piggery, dry land farming, fodder production, food processing, dairy, small stock and poultry among others,” he said, adding that the college is going to teach 60 per cent practical and 40 percent theory. This is evidenced by the college’s ownership of two farms for the practical lessons and tests even before it opens doors for its first batch of students, he said. The college’s target is Form 5 leavers.
In addition the college intends through short courses to give basic training to officers of financing institutions like Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA). A former CEDA employee, Mosinki said officers often have to make decisions on agricultural projects while they do not have sufficient information of what is really happening in the field. “We will also recognize people with prior learning skills. If you have worked on a farm for years; having experience of what is happening in there we will make arrangement to take you through an interview, and then provide suitable training,” he said.
Another unique approach the college will provide, he emphasized, will be that of providing post-training partnerships. Through this, students who graduate from other institutions will have the opportunity to partner with the college. He expects that the students will form clusters and start up projects such as in dairy, which the college will sponsor. The students will earn salaries while the school will organize market for their produce, he said. The 500 to 600 students expected to be admitted at the college are required to have minimum of 28 points.