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The ban on importation of certain vegetables presents an opportunity for other value chain industries such as production of fertilisers to thrive, the Chairman of Botswana Fertiliser Manufacturers Association (BFMA), Daniel Gabolatse, has said.
“We have the raw materials,” he said. “We have cowdung, water, sunlight and many more, which is our biggest advantage as a nation.” Speaking at a Horticultural and Grain Farmers Workshop in Gaborone on Tuesday this week, Gabolatse called on the government to consider allocating 70 percent fertiliser products for local manufacturing in programmes such as ISPAAD and asked the Ministry of Agriculture to have an officer dedicated to dealing with technical issues related to the fertiliser production industry.
“We have a problem at the moment because we are going from pillar to post and that confusion is really delaying us,” he said, addressing himself to the Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Molebatsi Molebatsi, who was present at the workshop. Gabolatse asserted that there is a market for fertilisers in Botswana but access to this market is seasonal.
“The introduction of a continuous annual subsidy would assist in attracting locals to embark on both grain and horticulture farming, and that would in turn increase the demand for fertilisers,” he stated. Emphasising the neeed for growth of the industry, he said more use of locally manufactured fertilisers would lead to increased production and ultimately open export opportunities to bring in foreign exchange. “What we are trying to say here is that we want to also play a role in reducing the import bill,” Gabolatse said.
Reagarding the import ban on fresh produce itself, he said the challenges they have experienced after the fact on has been of lack of consultation. “If we don’t consult with the Ministry of Agriculture, it is a problem because we cannot play a role in reduction of the import bill,” he asserted. “There was a time when we spoke to the Ministry of Agriculture and they agreed that restrictions could be imposed on importation of fertilisers, especially organic ones,” Gabolatse said.