Young farmers have been urged to commercialise agriculture to contribute to food security as well as produce quality products that can compete with the regional market.
An agricultural economist, Ernst Janovsky highlighted this recently during the Botswana Young Farmers Association (BYFA) workshop sponsored by Barclays Bank of Botswana, which was attended by 80 farmers and aspiring ones.
The workshop aimed at addressing topics that affect farmers locally; information on what is needed for farmers to get loans from the commercial banks as well as how imports and exports contribute to the agricultural sector.
Janovsky advised young farmers to be passionate about agriculture and always think of penetrating the regional market when producing as well as embrace technology.
“ It is too late for Africa to develop infrastructure that is suitable for agriculture. This is where you as a farmer needs to grow up and find ways of making technology work for you,” he said.
On his part, the chairperson of BYFA, Karabo Molefhe urged young farmers to be innovative and start practising smart agriculture that can help contribute to food security in the country. He complemented government for availing schemes aimed at empowering farmers like the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD), Young Development Fund (YDF), Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA), just to mention but a few. “Government is doing its part in helping farmers with the programmes that have been availed and it will be great if the private sector, commercial banks as well come on board and help in this regard.
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He advised that an incubation and capacity building will be ideal for any farmer that government is about to sponsor to avoid government spending money on projects that fail immediately without bringing the output.
“Young farmers need to start viewing agriculture as a business that can compete globally. They need to focus on producing good products that can penetrate other markets and stop worrying about the pricing,” he said.
In addition, Molefhe said most farmers need mentoring, highlighting that farmers need to have a succession plan as most families who have succeeded in this inherited it from their forefathers.
He said as part of raising awareness and sharing ideas on improving the agricultural space, they intend to hold workshops across the country and will start a project ‘mapping of youth projects’ which they intend to go across the country to get information on how many youth farmers are practicing, their production, challenges, the causes, and the solutions.
He said that they will hold the Botswana Farming Awards in collaboration with Farmers Guide as well as host BYFA exposition and conference at the beginning of next year.