The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently conducted training for farmers in the SPEDU region that was aimed at imparting awareness and knowledge on best practice in horticulture technologies for improved output and economic efficiency of farming enterprises targeted at increasing productive capacity of SMMEs in Botswana.
The three- day programme was also meant to reflect on the concerns raised during the first year of the Supply Development Programme (SDP), which falls under the auspices of National Agro-Processing Plant (NAPro) supply chain. As part of the training, farmers were taken through lessons on irrigation methods and their investments costs, sustainability and climate smart agriculture, crop production in controlled environments, managing a seedling nursery, soil health testing, plant pests and diseases, and scaling an agribusiness. Daniel Gareebine, who is a consultant for the programme, highlighted that during the first year of the SDP, they have established that ineffective technologies remain one of the major contributing factors to the low output and poor commercial performance of horticulture farmers in Botswana.
“Farmers do not use best practice farming methods. They do not have access to climate control equipment, access to improved inputs like seeds varieties, fertilisers and, finally, they do not use efficient harvesting and harvest preservation methods,” he said.
Gareebine stated that reports also indicated that farmers desire to acquire technology to improve their productive output but were constrained by lack of funding and the lack of knowledge of available technologies and its adoption.
Speaking at the training programme, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI), Molebatsi Molebatsi praised the SDP for its focus on value chain development in Botswana. He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the country a lesson on the dangers of not being self-sufficient.
“We dream of a Botswana where we will have enough food that we would not need to import from other countries, but that we would become the supplier through some of the trade agreements such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” Molebatsi said. He also expressed the government’s commitment towards continuing to foster partnerships between the MITI and UNDP Botswana through programmes such as the SDP. Molebatsi called on all stakeholders involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to pull together to ensure synergies in their efforts to build a strong SMME sector in the country.
He further called for support from the private sector, particularly the financing institutions to come on board to back the programme and provide financial support to its suppliers. Equally, the junior minister encouraged the farmers to take full advantage of the opportunity presented through the horticulture technologies training.
The training programme was attended by 50 participants who are farmers on the NAPRO supply chain together with other UNDP stakeholders in the agri-business sectors. UNDP has enrolled horticultural farmers in the SPEDU region, on SDP.