Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Entrepreneurship, Lamech Nthekela said there is a need for continued efforts by institutions from all sectors to build research and innovation capacity in order to advance the agriculture sector. He said technologies such as marketing platforms, precision farming and the use of drones in agriculture will enhance agricultural efficiency.

“More advanced means of supporting agricultural production need to be explored. The pandemic has re-emphasised the need to take advantage of and leverage ICT to do business in agriculture.” Speaking during Absa Hackathon Awards, Nthekela said hackathons promote the free flow of revolutionary ideas in a diverse collaborative environment. “These innovative concepts lead to the creation of new applications based on evolving technologies or new goods based on novel methodologies.”

Nthekela also pointed out that all sectors should leverage on each other’s strength in various areas of the agriculture sector to increase the comparative and competitive advantage to enhance production. “We need to see continued and strengthened efforts to build research and development and innovation.” The government has committed to commercialising the agricultural sector because of its contribution to the nation’s economic growth, diversification and accomplishment of food security.

Nthekela said the government of Botswana remains on a mission to engage local commercial farmers to appreciate their capacity and develop strategies to assist them to meet sufficient food production. “The agriculture sector in Botswana contributes approximately two percent towards the country’s GDP, therefore there is an opportunity to diversify and invest in agro-industrial, agro-processing and supply chain development.” He commended Absa bank for promoting digitalisation of the agriculture sector, highlighting that the sector is facing significant difficulties with manufacturing volume, and efficiency.

Production is limited by lack of infrastructure and support services as well as financial assistance. Nthekela said these problems are also the result of numerous systematic flaws. “It is challenging to provide amenities like roads, electricity, water, telecommunications and extension services because many agricultural farms are dispersed."

Absa Bank Botswana Managing Director, Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane said digitisation is inevitably changing business models, and Absa Botswana is proud to have the opportunity to be an active player and partner in supporting the dreams and aspirations of youth in the technology space. “As a digitally led bank, we are inspired to find creative ways to deliver innovative technologies and propositions to bring convenience to our customers and improve the lives of the communities in which we do business”.