The Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) said it has identified five zones across the country as part of efforts to ensure that local producers satisfy local demand for vegetables.
In its latest annual report, LEA states that in response to the announcement of import restrictions for 16 horticulture products effective January 2022, it carried out a rapid study to quantify the value and volumes of the local production required to replace the restricted import crops. The study was carried out in the last quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year.
The study found amongst others that Botswana’s vegetable producers need to increase production by more than 34,000 tonnes if the country is to break free from its reliance on neighbouring South Africa and satisfy local demand for vegetables.
LEA indicated in its annual report that “The findings of the study reflected that the value of imports for the restricted crops stood at P197 million in 2020 and P194 Million for the first 9 months of 2021 and the corresponding weights were 34 653 and 33 232 tonnes, respectively.”
“This is the volume of tonnage that will need to be produced locally to meet the demand created by the import restriction shortfall,” said the authority.
The organisation stated that “The study also identified the 5 designated horticulture agroecological zones for of Notwane, Madikwe, Boteti/ Ngamiland, Selibe Phikwe/ Bobirwa and Shashe.” LEA said: “These are the areas in Botswana where horticulture is expected to do well due to the soils and water occurring in these regions.”
In the 2022/23 financial year, the Local Enterprise Authority said it was going to partner with local SMME horticulture clients to expand their production capacities and facilitate new entrants into the sectors. As part of the facilitation, the Authority has called for expressions of interest for leasing of fallow farms in the agroecological zones to avail land for use by new entrants and other farmers seeking to expand but have challenges with access to developed land. Other planned activities in the next financial year are the full horticulture value chain mapping to unearth new business opportunities along the chain stimulated by the increased local production as well as validation of identified opportunities.
The Authority said it engaged the Botswana Institute of Development Policy Analysis to carry out a profiling of the informal and formal SMME sector.
“The role of the SMME sector in economic development, job creation and poverty reduction in a conducive environment has been acknowledged over the world as a positive catalyst that can change the economic trajectory of a country,” LEA said.
It said this study is very crucial to identifying the current needs of the SMME sector as well as identifying sectors where they have a competitive advantage.
“The study will also provide baseline information on the SMME sector contribution to Gross Domestic Product and employment. The study is expected to review and recommend a conducive policy environment required to catapult the sector to its full potential,” LEA said.
It said the newly established Ministry of Entrepreneurship will also benefit significantly from this study at both SMME programming and policy levels.