Mmegi Online :: Minister calls for vibrant agri-business sector
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Last Updated
Monday 11 December 2017, 21:38 pm.
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Minister calls for vibrant agri-business sector

Agricultural Development and Food Security Minister, Patrick Ralotsia has called for a stimulation of a vibrant private agribusiness sector, noting that the scale of imports demonstrates the existence of demand for agricultural commodities.
By Pauline Dikuelo Thu 30 Nov 2017, 17:32 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Minister calls for vibrant agri-business sector








He noted that the food imports represent a diverse set of markets both in key commodities as well as processed goods and associated industries.

Ralotsia was speaking at the launch of the agric ministry’s strategic plan for 2017-2023 this week in Gaborone. “The scale of imports demonstrates that demand exists and that a vibrant private agribusiness sector can be stimulated to service it,” he said.

According to the value chain analysis and action plan for 2015, the sector’s demand was worth around P3.9 billion worth of commodities, processed goods and associated industries. Dairy imports amounted to P550 million, beef P1.8 billion, horticulture P293 million, poultry P1 billion, and piggery P178 million in revenue per annum.

The minister said the sector remains largely underutilised and several impediments hamper rapid economic growth including lack of adequate infrastructure, communication challenges and inaccessible finance and high cost of inputs.

He said poor performance of the sector has impacted on employment levels, with wages in the sector being lower than average economy-wide wages.

“Over the years the focus has shifted from food self-sufficiency to food security with a focus on promoting efficient and sustainable agriculture rather than food production at any cost, but this policy shift has yet to yield real benefits,” he said.

Ralotsia further noted that his ministry is challenged to achieve its mandate and serve its diverse customers efficiently due to misaligned policies, lack of strategic planning and focus, lack of capacity in research and development, ineffective extension service, lack of implementation of strategies amongst others.

He said they have realised that policies and legislation are neither

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aligned to each other nor aligned within as some Acts date from as far back as 1910 indicating that they are outdated. He therefore called for an urgent review to refresh, update and align policies and Acts, not only with each other but also to the commercial growth objectives of the sector. 

Ralotsia said previous projects were challenged by lack of robust planning which resulted in projects becoming white elephants or their implementation delayed.

“It is therefore imperative that all programmes and projects are subjected to rigorous due diligence processes in order to ensure that they are aligned with a broader strategic agenda, are focussed feasible to implement and likely to deliver on the expected benefits,” he said.

He said the ministry does not have research agenda to guide the research priority for the country adding that although during the NDP 10 a lot of technologies were released, the ministry does not have capacity to multiply these technologies.

He said regulatory instruments that can promote research are also not in place. In crop production Seed Act and a policy on protection of New Varieties of Plants (PVP) are not in place making Botswana unattractive to plant breeding related business ventures.

Further he said the budget of the agricultural sector is not adequate with only 10% of the recurrent budget channelled towards research and that funding from development partners is not prioritised.

“For example, the ministry engaged in bio-fuel related research when bio-fuel production was not a priority to the sector but because the financier dictated the area of focus,” he said.

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