Production has increased to a little over 60 percent for vegetables in the past few months since the import ban - an indication that Batswana have the ability to grow the horticulture sector and other agriculture industries.
Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Molebatsi Molebatsi told Parliament that the ban on the import of vegetables has helped to increase local production, with tomatoes, potatoes, and onions doing well among local farmers.
He also said that the production of potatoes, which seemed difficult to secure and farm are also improving, with nine of the 14 main potato farmers being Batswana. Local production currently satisfies 54 percent of the national demand for horticulture products, with the remaining available through imports.
The annual import bill currently stands at P796 million thereby presenting opportunities for primary production of cereals, fruit, and vegetables, as well as seeding production projects in strategic areas across the country. Botswana’s main attraction as an investment destination for the
Agriculture industry is hinged on the country’s supportive policy environment for the sector value-chains; among others quantity restrictions to stimulate local production, tax incentives for select areas as well as VAT exemption on agricultural implements. Agriculture is considered the best
prospect industry in Botswana.
According to Statistics Botswana, Botswana is a Net Food Importing Developing Country with the opportunity to increase domestic production of basic foodstuffs, particularly cereals, grain sorghum and maize, pulses fruit, and vegetables. Botswana is currently in need of improved investments in arable agriculture. In the past year, Botswana's GDP from agriculture has increased to over P750 million.
Speaking at the recent Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) Agriculture and Science Career Fair in Sebele, BUAN Head of Department, Agricultural Education and Extension, Dr. Kgomotso Mabuse encouraged learners to tap into the diverse spectrum of career opportunities across the agriculture value chain.
"At BUAN we want to offer expertise knowledge and skills that will capacitate students to play a key role in the sector and fittingly contribute to national development," he said.
Learners were also introduced to different segments in the agriculture sector and they also got to learn about advancement in technology and trends and also identify opportunities across the value chain in line with their personal interests and abilities.
Mabuse said another important key aspect was to demystify the notion that agriculture is 'boring and difficult' and is for old and rural people, and rather showcase agriculture as an exciting, lucrative and vibrant sector that needs rhe involvement of many young people.