Monday, January 30, 2023

Professor calls for Sustainable and resilient Agriculture

An official of the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) has expressed optimism that the recommendations and resolutions that the 17th Biennial African Association for Biological Nitrogen Fixation (AABNF) adopted will have an influence on the National Development Plan (NDP) 11.

In an interview on Thursday at GICC, Professor Flora Pule-Meulenberg said, “We have previously tried to advise decision makers pertaining to sustainable agriculture and it seemed our voices were not clear. But now that the Minister officiated in our conference we hope he is going to give us a better hearing ear.”

She further emphasised that policy implementation should be guided by scientific research and not vice-versa. She recalled that following the same biennial gathering in Nairobi, Kenya, way back in 2012, the government there resolved to spend about two and half per cent of its GDP on research. That research, she said, bore results.

She said what the conference discussed could ultimately be assigned to various ministries. Held under the theme “Solutions for food security in Africa through sustainable soil fertility management of ecosystems under climate change,” the conference brought together participants from USA, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, Morocco, Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, with view to increase food production in Africa. 

Asked whether indeed the presentations by various delegates at the conference advocated for the plowing of legume plants (beans/peas species) and whether this kind of farming could be defined as fertilising the soil naturally, she responded in the positive.

“It is a greener technology than using fertilisers. This is better for environmental conservation,” she said. Prof Meulenberg who also chaired the event’s organising committee said they have sound working relationships with parastatals like Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) and private entities like the AgriFeed and The Agri-Shop. 

She, however, bemoaned the fact that her University ended up having to single handedly organise and foot the bill for the conference, save for support by the abovementioned companies; though the institution approached various companies well in advance.

“It is unfortunate because the private sector, especially agribusinesses have always complained that our input is limited in the sector. Research needs funding and it is disappointing for most companies not to show support at the time of need,” she said.

Over a month ago while officially opening an organic fertilizer manufacturing factory at Mmamashia minister Ralotsia stated that raising the levels of organic and non-organic nutrient application and good agricultural practices, including conservation agriculture, will not only improve soil fertility but also reduce environmental.


Read this week's paper