- Report recommends devising a strategy to provide access roads in key production zones
- Calls for expediting implementation of the Revised Agricultural Policy
- Recommends a review of BPC pricing structure for critical economic sectors like agriculture
Members of Parliament (MPs) have called for implementation of several measures in the agriculture sector in order to ensure food security for Botswana and to “make the right to food a reality” as stated in a report recently present to the House.
The Report of the Committee on Agriculture, Lands and Housing captures the recommendations of MPs and strongly urges the government to adopt its proposals in order to improve policies and operational efficiency in the agricultural sector. The Committee is chaired by MP for Jwaneng-Mabutsane, Mephato Reatile.
Its report notes that agriculture is essential for ending poverty, providing employment and improving the quality of life of Batswana but observes that despite its significance to the economy, the sector remains largely crippled even though the government has made investments in it. “Financing of this sector is scattered around various agencies and requires better coordination to achieve intended outputs and impact,” states the report, denoting contributions of legislators.
Regarding coordination of policies, the report calls for a comprehensive review of policy and legislative frameworks because Botswana is signatory to many international protocols that remain unimplemented. “There is need to develop a policy and legislative framework to achieve food security and make the right to food a reality, and to set national food security targets that are consistent with the global ones as envisaged in various Regional and International Protocols,” it says.
The Reatile report highlights the need for infrastructural development. The Agriculture, Lands and Housing Committee report of 2021 states that stimulation of infrastructure will lead to construction of access roads and easier facilitation of goods and services within production areas. For instance, the MPs refer specifically to Pandamatenga Farms which they believe can go a long way towards stimulating more production in that area.
“The Committee, however, notes with concern the poor state of the road connecting farmlands in the Tuli Block from Kwenantle/Talana Farms, Baines Drift border post all the way to Martin’s Drift,” says the Reatile report. “The Committee is of the view that this is a strategic road requiring immediate attention.” Another challenge in Pandamatenga is that commercial farmers there incur higher costs of power, which is reported to average P1.7 million per month.
To address these shortcomings, Parliament has proposed:
- A strategy to provide access roads in key production zones;
- Expediting implementation of the Revised Agricultural Policy; and
- A review of BPC pricing structure for critical economic sectors like agriculture
“The Committee therefore also recommends that such strategic areas as Pandamatenga, the Tuli Block, Mosisedi, the SPEDU region must benefit from such incentives as tailored for special economic zones, including power subsidies,” says the report. “More sustainable power solutions, including developing some of the envisaged solar power plants in these areas will address these power access and cost concerns.”
Regarding financing, the Reatile report expresses concern that although funding is availed to the agriculture sector, it is fragmented and lacks coordination and output targets. It therefore calls for consolidation of agricultural funding through a commercial bank or the National Development Bank. Such funding should also address the critical issue of insurance in order to mitigate losses occasioned the impact climate change and other risks.