Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) horticulture graduates expressed their determination to increase vegetable production capacity locally and reduce dependence on South African farmers.
The 42 horticulture entrepreneurs graduated from LEA Glen Valley Horticulture Incubation project on Tuesday and 10 outstanding winners were granted prizes ranging from P5 000 to P20 000 by Stanbic Bank Botswana.In his remarks, one of the graduates, Jacob Thebenala said through the training at the incubation centre they have acquired skills to produce enough food to feed the nation if they work hard.
“We have been really incubated and the ball is now in our courts. Given all these skills and courage we can make a change in the economy and be the producers of food locally and reduce dependence on imports,” said Thebenala.
He said as Small Micro and Medium Enterprises they should look for partnerships in order to grow and increase productivity. “Having been exposed to different technologies like greenhouses and drip irrigation that improve output of the horticulture commodities, we are equipped to make a significant difference in the horticulture sector. We can make a difference through collaborations,”
Currently the country imports about 48 percent of vegetables from South Africa as the local production can not meet the market demand.Dimakatso Lekgotla who received P20 000 cash from Stanbic bank said she is going to produce tomatoes, green peppers and onions as a start-up in her 25 hacter farm in Francistown.
“I have gained a lot of modern techniques and skills so I am ready to start farming once I get start-up capital. But in the meantime I am going to start with the little I have,” said Lekgotla.
Meanwhile, LEA Chief Executive Officer, Racious Moatshe said their objective is to create a pool of successful, sustainable and competitive SMMEs that will be instrumental in advancing government’s high level goals of employment creation, import substitution, poverty reduction and economic diversification.
“These 42 graduates have been exposed to various production methods under green houses, tunnels and net shades in addition to being equipped with business management skills that will enable them to function on their own, post the incubation,” said Moatshe. LEA incubation has to date produced over 150 graduates who are currently engaged in production countrywide.Moatshe said they are currently looking for private partnerships to develop the 25 hectare commercial farm at their Glen Valley Horticulture Incubation.
Stanbic Bank Botswana Acting Chief Executive, Samuel Minta said Stanbic Bank Botswana is determined to move Botswana forward by supporting SMEs in becoming active economic agents, leading to job creation and essentially adding to the growth of economy.
“We understand our responsibility goes beyond banking, hence our investment in the growth of the Agriculture sector, which is pivotal in diversifying the economy. We are proud to have a fruitful partnership with LEA and we look forward to continuing to make progress real in the horticulture sector,” he said.