The urgent need to tap unexploited potential of the Botswana dairy sector as part of economic diversification has been stressed.
Botswana is a net importer of dairy products from other neighbouring countries with only 10 percent of milk being produced locally.
“Botswana has got a lot of cows but we import milk and cheese from South Africa,” said Peggy Serame, the deputy Permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Serame said the potential laying in the dairy sector hasn’t been tapped.
“Little attention is given to the dairy sector although it holds potential to create thousands of jobs, reduce poverty and cut the country’s high dependence on imported milk products,” she said.
The private sector has been called upon to play a leading role by investing into this sector, she said and added that development of the dairy sector in the country calls for more coherent and focused interventions. Currently, South Africa and Zimbabwe are the only countries that produce dairy products in Southern Africa.
She said the private sector must become a key player by providing simple and sustainable technologies that will enable development of this sector.
“Growing this sector can be a major player in poverty reduction for it will be in a position to spur economic activities in the village level,” said Serame.
One of the major constraints in dairy farming in Botswana is inadequacy of feed quantity and quality to sustain milk production, particularly during the dry season. Serame indicated that management of most dairy farms in Botswana had become a major challenge due to its high input and capital intensive nature and farmers having inadequate resources which she said resulted in low milk yields.
She said innovation and efficiency will be vital in helping the industry to develop products, packaging and processing to meet the demand in the country as well as for export.