Mmegi Online :: Horticulture needs fine-tuning – experts
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Tuesday 27 June 2017, 23:25 pm.
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Horticulture needs fine-tuning – experts

With a low production rate, it is critical for the horticulture sector to re-evaluate its practices in order to optimise production, experts have advised.
By Isaac Pinielo Fri 16 Jun 2017, 16:52 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Horticulture needs fine-tuning – experts








In a recent horticulture value chain analysis and action plan study, Sid Boubekeur, head of the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE) regional office for Southern Africa, said one of the challenges identified in the value chain is lack of good farming practices. Other challenges include covering a wide range of technologies, know-how, management systems, distribution networks and financial record keeping. “This is why 58% of fruits and vegetables are currently imported,” Boubekeur said.

Moreover, he stated that the fluctuation in production volumes and prices increase the risk of sustainability in the value chain.

He also noted that although principally caused by seasonal and weather fluctuations, the variations in production volumes are magnified by the lack of implementation of crop plans and coordination of production between farmers and the distribution networks.  “This leads to in turn oversupply of some products and shortages of others, leading to large price variations and wastage,” he said.

Nevertheless, Boubekeur said there are many opportunities to improve the horticulture value chain performance starting with allocation of larger farming areas with modern irrigation techniques, appropriate production technologies and increased qualification of management and staff.

He said this is the condition to attain competitive pricing and negotiating commercial and viable partnerships with larger distributors.

According to Boubekeur, the value chain strengths lie mainly in its production of naturally grown fresh fruit and vegetables, without the use of artificial additives, which is a niche for the local, regional and international markets.

The study, which has been developed by the CDE and International Trade Centre (ITC) in the framework of the Private Sector Development Programme, has come up with a number of recommendations for the horticulture sector including the introduction

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of a code of practice to govern relations between farmers and retailers.

It explained that with the increasing fragmentation of the sector, the reduced role of Botswana Horticulture Market and direct channels being established between retailers and farmers, the governance of the relationship between the latter has become extremely important.

“A key complaint amongst farmers relates to the disproportionate power of the retailers in the horticulture value chain and various instances of abuse of that power,” said the report. At the same time, the study says, retailers have highlighted examples of where farmers do not meet their commitments. It said various countries have codes of conduct that govern the relationship between retail chains and suppliers, noting that such a code is urgently needed in Botswana to be monitored and enforced in the first instance by National Horticultural Producers and Traders Committee of Botswana (NHPTC). According to the study, Botswana’s agriculture sector accounts for 2.7% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The sector is dominated by the livestock industry, which accounts for 61% of the sector’s output. “In the year ending April 2013, the horticulture sector’s output is reported to have accounted for P143 million or 0.1% of GDP,” it said.

Total production and imports of fresh fruit and vegetables in 2013 was 112,000 tonnes, of which the latter accounted for 58%. Imports are almost entirely from South Africa.

Inputs such as seeds, pesticides and fertilisers are almost entirely imported from South Africa. The VCA suggests that Botswana input prices are on average 26% higher than those prevailing in South Africa. Production is dominated by cabbage, tomato, potato and oranges, which together account for 60% of tonnage.

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