Botswana is still not self sufficient in fruit and vegetable production as it currently produces only 52 percent (47,539mt) of the required 90 000 mt. This was revealed by the Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Moreri Moesi.
According to Moesi, growth in production of fruits and vegetables started in 2003/04 which saw production increasing from 20% to the current 52%. He also said that Botswana achieved 55% of the national requirement in 2011/12 season. The current shortfall of 48% is met with imports of fruits and vegetables.
The current drought, Moesi said, has adversely affected horticultural production as most of the farming is irrigation based. He explained that the majority of the horticultural projects in the country are based in the agro-ecologically suitable areas in the Central, South East, Kgatleng and NorthWest districts, whilst Kgalagadi is not suitable for horticulture production due to unfavourable climatic conditions.
To increase horticultural production, Moesi says government continues to avail horticultural land such as Dikabeya, Kubung and Mogobane for irrigation schemes.
On the challenges the industry is facing, Moesi says Botswana lacks a horticultural tradition which results in low adoption of improved technologies by farmers, adding that this leads to poor crop management practices. He also bemoaned the lack of horticulture farm machinery and implements which he says are also imported mainly from the Republic of South Africa.