- Signs MoU with Moeng Agribusiness Cooperative to that end
- Coop chair Sigwele notes agriculture employs merely 9% of the population
With the monthly food import bill averaging P1 billion, the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) has taken this as a challenge to take the lead in enhancing domestic food production.
Speaking at an occasion to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Moeng Agribusiness Cooperative recently, Vice Chancellor of BUAN, Professor Ketlhatogile Mosepele, said the food import bill is a clarion call for the university to lead the charge in building a food and secure nutrition secure nation.
“It is a challenge that demands us to be innovative in our efforts to enhance food production in Botswana and to create a future for prosperity,” he said. Prof Mosepele explained that BUAN’s vision is to be an innovative and research-intensive university in agriculture and natural resources. However, he noted, innovation and research on their own will not make Botswana food and nutrition secure.
While the institution’s mission is to produce innovative graduates and technological solutions, producing graduates too will not on its own make the country food and nutrition secure, he added. The missing key, he pointed out, is knowledge translation and transfer. “We need to transfer our knowledge to society,” Prof Mosepele said. “We need to work with communities across the length and breadth of this country and share our expertise and knowledge for the benefit of all.”
This is what will complete the circle and contribute to making Botswana food and nutrition secure. In partnering with Moeng Agribusiness Cooperative, Prof Mosepele said BUAN will maximise their respective strengths and comparative advantages to complement each other’s strategic work. This will be particularly in areas of horticulture production, efficient water use, sustainable use of resources, and value chain development in horticulture.
According to Professor Mosepele, the partnership is particularly relevant in these challenging times during which COVID-19 created unprecedented health and socio-economic crisis while climate change has dampened agricultural productivity. Under the MoU BUAN will provide end-to-end technical support to Moeng Agribusiness Cooperative to help it undertake commercial horticultural production. The university will also use its resources to facilitate implementation of the envisaged projects of horticultural production and value chain development.
The Chairman of the coop, Dr Howard Sigwele, concurred with Professor Mosepele that the high import bill is a source of concern. He noted that contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP stands at just 3 percent and employs only 9 percent of the population, which is an indication that it is not doing well compared to 30 years ago. However, Dr Sigwele added, the situation can be turned around by increasing productivity which in turn will contribute to employment.