Barclays Bank of Botswana and the Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) this week joined hands with the aim of boosting agricultural output and improving animal health strategies against livestock diseases.
Livestock accounts for over 30 percent of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP), offering opportunities for sustainable economic development, social well being, food security and nutrition.
However, the prevalence of high impact infectious trans-boundary animal diseases (TADs) such as foot and mouth disease (FMD) is said to be resulting in underperformance and subdued productivity within the agricultural sector.
It is against this background that Barclays Bank is seeking to assist BVI, by facilitating vaccine export and importation across the bank’s network in the African region.
The bank’s head of public sector, Phemelo Moleofe indicated that this is not the first time that Barclays has assisted BVI.
She said in the past, the bank financed the institute’s infrastructural developments, which made it to achieve international pharmaceutical standards. She also noted that the bank was mandated to solicit funds to support the development. Barclays Bank was appointed to be the lead arranger in the listing of two bonds worth P70 million in 2008 and P50 million in 2010 respectively.
Moleofe also noted that the funding helped BVI to construct a state-of-the-art laboratory, which gave dawn to BVI’s capability of producing both the conventional and high-tech purified FMD vaccines.
The total cost of the project was in excess of P200 million, which was raised from the capital markets.
According to Moleofe, Barclays Bank was also a key partner in this capital raising exercise ensuring the availability of funds for the construction of the laboratory.
She noted that as the main supplier of FMD vaccines in the African continent, BVI has constantly increased capacity to fulfill the increasing market demand.
“This mode of financing also allowed BVI to further contribute to the development of local capital markets and investments,” she said.
The Minister of Agriculture, Patrick Ralotsia commended the initiative, stating that it demonstrates Botswana’s pioneering efforts in advancing the sustainability of the agricultural sector in Africa.
“This project is in line with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health Global Framework that calls for greater control of transboundary diseases with the eventual goal of eradication, where possible,” he said.
BVI general manager, George Matlho reiterated that sub-Saharan Africa has seen the devastating effects that diseases like FMD have had on animal health and agricultural sectors.
Matlho also said the collaboration between the bank and BVI demonstrates how the private-public partnerships are vital to successfully tackle the common cross-border challenges.
“The demand for food and livestock products continues to grow exponentially with increased populations, providing an opportunity for Botswana and neighbouring countries to make a contribution towards global agricultural sustainability,” he said.