Farmers have been called upon to start exploiting the whole agriculture value chain in order to maximise returns and complement the national goals of economic transformation through employment creation and export development.
The call was made by the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Beauty Manake, during a tour of agriculture projects in the SPEDU and Tuli Block Special Economic Zones (SEZs) on Tuesday last week.
Manake urged farmers to increase their involvement by focusing on food production and participating in all stages of the agriculture value chain like processing, packaging and distribution. She said Botswana needs to increase investment in post-harvest technology in order to ensure further beneficiation of agricultural produce.
“We need to start closing the gaps and reducing our input costs,” Minister Manake said. “We can only do this if we produce our own seedlings and agro-chemicals like fertilizers and insecticides.”
Lower input costs would reduce the cost of production and make local produce more competitive in the international market, she added. “We can only become an export-led economy if our prices are attractive,” said Manake.
Agriculture has been identified as a potential driver of economic growth in Africa, contributing an average 24 percent to the continent’s annual growth at present. According to the World Bank, agriculture and agri-business could command a US$ 1 trillion presence in Africa’s regional economy by 2030, provided it is matched with more electricity and irrigation, smart business and a dynamic private agribusiness sector.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has previously committed to developing a sustainable, technology-driven and commercially viable agricultural sector to boost economic growth, create more jobs and generate export revenue in line with Botswana’s economic transformation agenda.