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Technology sustainable means of growing agriculture

Technology still remains the best method to improve and increase agricultural production in Botswana, says Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) agronomist, Mr Lambani Obuseng. 

Mr Obuseng was contributing in a seminar hosted by First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) on February 6 to review the 2018/19 budget covering topics on agriculture and energy sectors.

The topic under discussion was ‘Thinking beyond the Fence: Growing Agriculture to feed the World’ and ‘Fueling our future: Sustainable and Profitable PPPs avenues’.

 Mr Obuseng emphasised the importance of the increased use of technology in growing agriculture to be the mainstay of the economy that it used to be.

He however lamented the three per cent allocated to the sector from the budget.

"Agriculture used to be Botswana’s third largest contributor to the economy, contributing 30 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at independence, but has since dropped to two per cent," Mr Obuseng stated.

He continued to emphasise on the government’s use of technology as a sustainable method to help plan and strategise at real time the process of farming and genetic engineering, giving examples of the use of drones and modern biotechnology.

“Drones can not only show real time pictures of the process of farming to help crop monitoring and health assessment, but can also be a platform to exchange and gather information” he said.

He further explained the process of biotechnology as a way to improve plant growth by manipulation of plant genes, describing it as a way of thinking beyond the fence.

Mr Obuseng also noted that despite the adoption of several new initiatives, agriculture continues to decline as a result of certain operational challenges that continue to besiege the sector.

The challenges, he said, contribute to the lack of growth of agriculture.

 Mr Obuseng further cited challenges such as poor soil fertility, dependence on simple manual tools, low adoption levels of agricultural technology and poor infrastructure as challenges that need to be dealt with for the sector to grow.

Another panelist, a beef farmer, Mr Clive Marshall said the beef sector also faced several challenges such as low returns for cattle producers and lack of market access.

He said producers, especially in non-EU zones were the hardest-hit particularly with the issues of lack of market access.

Despite these, he said it was critical to find ways of creating wealth out of the national herd.

One such measures, he said, included taking advantage of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which he said gives Botswana a quota-free and tariff-free access to the highest paying market in the world.

Mr Marshall said increased demand for feedlot capacity as well as increase in live weight prices were some of the ways that could help create wealth from the national herd.

Presenting on the energy sector, an energy consultant, Mr David Mompati noted that power production costs have been increasing rapidly over the past decade, but that retail prices were not going up at the same rate.

That, he said, would in the long term put pressure on the Botswana Power Corporation as it was unsustainable.

Mr Mompati stated that there was also need for the liberalisation of the energy sector as well as for the unbundling of transmission and distribution. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Bakgethwa Sekaba

Location : GABORONE

Event : FNBB Budget Review Seminar

Date : Feb 07 Wed,2018

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