President Ian Khama has urged farmers to continue with their commitment to produce quality food that ends up on our tables and grows our country’s economy.
Khama was officiating at the Serowe Agricultural Show recently. The President said that a nation’s agricultural wealth is measured through the use of its arable land as well as whether it is able to fully utilise it to produce food that could sustain its population over time. “Your efforts are always fully appreciated,” he said.
Khama said that his government remains committed to the improvement of the agricultural sector in order to help farmers achieve self-sufficiency in the production of food which is the objective of farmers. Reassuring the farmers that government’s commitment towards agriculture will continue undiminished, he said that there has been an increased investment in the agricultural sector by his government.
“If anything, there is a clear demonstration of commitment towards agriculture through increased investment in areas such as research and development as seen through institutions such as the Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) as well as other components of veterinary research,” said Khama who noted that identifying and improving breeds to ensure local suitability to local conditions remains a priority.
He told the show that government has made agriculture one of its key priority areas. He said agriculture has been identified as one of the vital sectors that can contribute towards the comprehensive economic diversity of the country from being a mineral led economy. “In this regard, government has been channelling funds into the sector through programmes such as NAMPAD, LIMID, ISPAAD and the Young Farmers Fund.
Khama told his audience that, agriculture has benefited from the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) with the aim to position it as one of the catalysts for economic diversification. “Programmes in this regard included among others those that graded roads leading to production areas, electrification of production clusters, construction of service centres in various strategic areas and the establishment of a grey water irrigation scheme,” said Khama.
He said that government efforts aim at complementing the efforts of the farmers to be better placed to achieve their objectives, especially of ensuring self-sufficiency or food security. He noted that, agricultural shows are not only critical for farmers but also give consumers an opportunity to meet with all stakeholders in one place, in the process also affording them opportunities to see first-hand the quality of products in the market.
“For farmers, it is first and foremost an exposition to showcase their products. It affords you the opportunity to see first-hand some of the prospects available, as well as the best practices that obtain amongst you. It thus accords you the chance to benchmark from the very best, network and synergise with others. These are the simple modalities to development and coming up with better and more viable products,” said Khama.
He added that agricultural shows promote other sectors such as those dealing in transport and logistics, catering and other Small and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) including those in the informal sector. “This show has indeed made its mark and has now become a major annual event that people now plan for,” said Khama.