Following the recent Customer Service Forum hosted by the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) in Francistown last week, the Chief Executive Officer of the financial institution, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, has pleaded with farmers in Botswana to try and commercialize farming in an effort to try and enhance the agricultural sector for better contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. This emanated during the CEDA customer service after the queries by one of the clients who indicated that CEDA was neglecting cattle farmers.
The client had pointed out that CEDA lacked trained officers in the field of agriculture for better client appraisals and better service delivery. Dr Matsheka pointed out that as CEDA they are not experts in every field but are currently making an effort to make sure that their officers are trained so that they can specialize in every field or sector to try and meet the demands of clients effectively.
“Our mandate is to divide our staff according to their clients and specialties,” remarked Matsheka.
However, Matsheka elaborated much that most farmers in Botswana were not commercializing farming which negated on meeting the international standards. He pointed out that despite the urge by government to try and propel the farmers to commercialize farming there was negligence by some farmers on managing their products on day to day bases.
Matsheka highlighted that farmers did not manage their farms professionally.
“Those farmers who are engaged in cattle farming, need to always have computers in their farms to try and keep data or information on their cattle breeds as it is one of the prime elements of commercial farming,” he said.
He took issue with the fact that most farmers administered their farm projects from far areas which disabled them to adhere to their projects. He further mentioned that he made a trip South Africa and Namibia where he realized that farmers took farming seriously and their performance was far better than of Batswana farmers.
Ever since Botswana Meat Commission was established, it has never slaughtered cattle to its full capacity,” said Matsheka.
He indicated that Batswana have the potential to flourish with the agricultural business as it is part of their culture but their performance was disappointing.
Matsheka added that the agricultural business has the potential of contributing to at least 45% to the GDP. He went ahead to urge farmers to form unions in order to make an audible voice with regard to their concerns.
“CEDA is very flexible with farmers who wish to expand their projects, as long as they provide written financial statements of their businesses,” he added.
Matsheka acknowledged that they as CEDA have not visited most of the agricultural projects indicating that was because they are always overwhelmed by other tasks but assured participants that the organization will improve its service to clients.