Statistics Botswana (SB) has embarked on a nationwide data collection exercise of the agriculture sector, which will be used to develop policies and programmes to improve the sector’s performance.
A statement from SB has revealed that the agency will collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in conducting the Agriculture Census from January to December this year.
The statement added that the survey would help in achieving the ministry’s vision of attaining food security and global competitiveness for agriculture products.
“Data collected through the census is used by the agricultural sector, especially the Ministry of Agriculture, to develop policies and programmes to improve the performance of the agricultural sector in Botswana,” reads the statement.
This includes technology development and transfer, diversification and commercialisation. Botswana government continues to rely on agricultural censuses and annual agricultural sample surveys of crops and livestock to produce agricultural statistics to inform policy decision-making. Agricultural censuses are conducted every 10 years to primarily establish new baseline data and provide a new framework for subsequent annual surveys.
The first Agricultural Census, which was conducted in 1971, focused only on livestock. The first Agricultural Census to cover both crops and livestock was carried out in 1982. The second Agricultural Census was held in 1993, while the last one was done in 2004. All past Agricultural Censuses were conducted by the then Central Statistics Office (CSO) in collaboration with the MOA, with technical assistance from Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in 1993.
Data collection targets both the traditional and commercial agricultural. The traditional agricultural holdings are in rural areas, including urban villages, while the commercial agricultural holdings are on agricultural farms or ranches on freehold land, leasehold land and Tribal Grazing Policy Land (TGLP) on communal holdings land. The Agricultural Census is also expected to provide data comparable internationally, enabling the production of competitive agricultural products.
Data collection will start in January 2015 and be completed in December 2015.
The exercise is divided into two phases whereby the first phase, which runs from January to September this year will focus on traditional holdings.
The second and last phase will focus on commercial holdings.
“The success of Botswana’s 2015 Agricultural census is among others, dependent on the cooperation that farmers and ranchers will provide,” added the statement.
The Agricultural sector contributes less than three percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), primarily through beef exports.
Although most farmers practice subsistence farming, the agricultural sector is able to supply food to just half of the population which is attributed to various factors like poor soil and erratic rainfall.
Botswana is heavily dependent on imports to meet food demand.
The country produces only 51,647 tonnes of sorghum, while the country needs 96,000 tonnes. Although the demand for fruits and vegetables is 75,000 tonnes, the country’s domestic production is only 40 percent of that figure.
The milk industry has become 95 percent dependent on imports as well. This is attributable to poor infrastructure, shortage of quality feeds, low farm gate price and lack of appropriate funding to support the sector.