Members of Parliament from across the aisle last week spoke in unison in calling for government to impose a blanket ban on all agriculture products. The legislators argued that the blanket ban will empower Batswana and force local food retailers to buy agricultural products from local farmers. Should the Ministry of Agriculture heed this call by MPs, this will be a welcome development.

We hope government will come up with good interventions to boost the agriculture sector. The sector has been experiencing a number of challenges over the years thereby contributing to sector’s decline. Drought and sporadic rainfalls are some of the reasons touted for the drastic decline.

It beats logic that a sector which contributed more than 50 percent to national Gross Domestic Product at Independence is now responsible for just 2 percent of the local economy. This clearly shows that as a country we still have a long way to go to ensure that we become self-sufficient in food production and eventually secure.

As a country we need to take progressive steps that are geared towards ensuring that we become self-sufficient on farm activities. It is very clear that Botswana has come up with policies in the agricultural sector, but we are still struggling to become self-sufficient in food production.

Of late the ministry responsible for agriculture introduced the Impact Accelerator Subsidy (IAS) to facilitate horticulture farmers to increase production levels. But like many other policies introduced by government in the past, the IAS is already experiencing some challenges.

The minister of Agriculture, Molebatsi Molebatsi told parliament last week that his ministry does not have enough budget to fully implement the IAS.

But why, is it that we lack the right policies which can bring about sustainable growth in agriculture or do we fail at implementation level? It is without doubt that over the years government has come up with policies which are aimed at picking the sector, but in most instances, the outcomes of

such policies have not brought the desired results.

It is very clear that, a holistic review of our agricultural policies is an urgent matter that needs all of our attention. We must seriously consider strategies as well as ways and means to integrate subsistence farming into the national agricultural setup. More well defined agricultural policies aimed at ensuring that we commercialise the sector are needed going forward.

We are aware that there are certain areas in our vast territory that are not suitable for cattle rearing, but would be ideal for crop production. We urge our Government and its private and community stakeholders to rise to the occasion to see to it that such areas are utilised to generate food for the population.

A nation that chooses to become a net food importer is not a secure nation. It beats logic why dairy production in Botswana is failing to bear fruits; where is the Lobatse Leather Park; what plans does government have in place for the Ngamiland cattle farmers?

We need to take agriculture to the pre-independence era where it contributed meaningfully to the GDP. Technology has improved the way people farm and with the right funding, farmers can feed this nation.