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Horticultural market largely untapped

PAULINE DIKUELO
Kebakile PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The horticulture industry in Botswana has a huge market that remains largely untapped, managing director of National Food Technology Research Centre (NAFTEC) Martin Kebakile told a French delegation this week.

Kebakile said this during the Botswana France business forum aimed at facilitating discussions and collaboration on matters concerning investment and trade opportunities within the private sector relating to both Botswana and France. 

Industry business leaders and government representatives from both countries attended the forum, which was facilitated by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC).

According to Kebakile, the horticultural industry in the country is valued at P700 million in which about 80% is imported while local product share is only 20%. 

“Our horticultural industry has a huge market and needs to be explored more as there are a lot of untapped areas, especially the indigenous products, which can be abstracted to come up with unique products that can be exported to other markets,” he said.

 Kebakile told the participants that as NAFTEC, they do have a laboratory where they can try ideas, which can be taken to the other markets regionally urging the business community to come forward with their concepts. 

“We have benchmarked in some other countries and found that olives for example can be extracted and turned into so many products and there is indeed a market for them.

Even

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aquaculture has the potential as well as cereal dry milling,” he said.

Locally NAFTEC has a new agro-processing plant (NAPRO) situated in Selebi-Phikwe, which produces tomato sauce, tomato paste, Atchar, beetroot just to mention a few. 

NAPRO, which has scored a deal with the country’s largest retailer Choppies, monthly output currently stands 191,136 cases. They produce 83,604 cases of tomato sauce, 75,096 cases of Atchar and 32,436 of beetroot a month.

A case contains 24 of the 375 ml of tomato sauce and 24 of 450g of pickles and beetroot. 

Amongst their projects, NAFTEC has through the University of Botswana and European Union completed a research framework on the product development and commercialisation of the morama.

They have also completed the preservation and processing of the Kgalagadi Truffle, Kalaharituber pfeili, as well as its commercialisation, which was funded by International Foundation for Science. Further the managing director noted that a biosafety-clearing house is still in the process as there is a committee working on coming up with the way forward.

He, however, said that there is a system in place that has the requirements that one has to go through.



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