Assistant Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security, Molebatsi Molebatsi has said the ministry aims to support rice farmers in Botswana to reduce cereal import bill. Botswana University Of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) planted three types of rice in November last year and have succesfully produced grains in four months period. Speaking during the official launch of the harvest, Molebatsi said the ministry supports the project and will help farmers through subsidies to finance the project. “For those who want to do farming under controlled environment, the subsidy extends to Shade net material, including polythene tunnels.

This should be an inspiration for farmers to also explore the market of water-saving and drought resistant rice, my ministry will support you.” Molebatsi also highlighted that even though the agricultural sector in Botswana has grown by 17 percent since independence, its contribution to the GDP has declined drastically and this should be an inspiration to farmers to start investing in agriculture because it is a sector with the capability to blossom. “Projects like this are a living example. I urge companies in the agriculture sector to also stand up and invest in food production.”

Professor Utlwang Batlang explained that two types AA128 and AA212 proved to be good for Gaborone area as they are early to medium season types and do not have high water need requirements. “These rice types have proved to give an average of 9 tonnes per hectare if supplemented with irrigation during dry spells. The rice plant stova will be harvested and prepared for livestock feed.” He said the research has proved that despite popular believe that rice cannot grow in dry land, Botswana now has rice that can grow in dry land and do not need high water requirements. “The rice trials will be extending to other areas like Maun, Tuli Block, Borolong, Pandamatenga, among others. The trials aim to bring rice production to the farmers so that they become self-reliant in production of food security crops for the nation.” For his part, Vice President Slumber

Tsogwane said the GDP from Agriculture in Botswana decreased to P791.10 Million in the fourth quarter of 2021 from P793.10 Million in the third quarter of 2021. “This calls for an intervention. Investments in arable agriculture will stimulate private sector development, create employment, create value-addition opportunities, and enhance food security and ultimately exports.” Currently, Cereal national demand stands at 200 000 tons per year, of which only 17 percent is supplied through local production.

According to figures from Statistics Botswana, rice imports quantity of Botswana went up by 29.63 percent from 25,927 thousand tonnes in 2017 to 33,609 thousand tonnes in 2018. Since the 1.59 percent dip in 2014, rice imports quantity soared by 38.06 percent in 2018.