The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) has signed with the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) will go a long way in boosting agro-production through provision of requisite skills, research and technology.
Mogara added that government has identified agriculture as a key investment sector that can drive social upliftment, economic growth and diversification.
“Botswana imported P9 billion worth of food in 2019. “Therefore, as SEZA we view agriculture as a key sector that has potential to facilitate export substitution, create employment and ensure our food security. “Our collaboration with BUAN will boost agro-production by facilitating skills development and identifying potential for downstream value addition such as food processing,” said Mogara.
The MoU will also enable the development of aligned vocational and technical skills for investors in the Special Economic Zones (SEZ), promote research and innovation and facilitate sharing of value-adding information.
For his part, BUAN Vice Chancellor, Dr David Jasper Gilbert Rees revealed that the institution’s strategic decision to incorporate biodiversity, research and development will transform the agriculture and natural resource sectors through the provision of high calibre graduates and development of new agricultural products.
“As a centre of excellence, we have a responsibility to complement SEZA’s efforts to boost agro-production and economic development. Our other interest is in value addition through agro-processing, which will create even more employment in agriculture,” he said.
According to the MoU, the two institutions will cooperate by aligning training programmes to develop vocational and technical skills for the SEZs Investors, promote research and innovation as well as provide technical due diligence to support SEZ investor proposals.
SEZA has vast amounts of land that have been earmarked for agro-production at its SEZs. The Pandamatenga agropolis SEZ presents opportunities for investment in cereal production, agro-processing, water management solutions as well as pesticides and fertilizer production. SEZA has also reserved land for horticulture and citrus production in Tuli Block and Selebi Phikwe as well as meat and leather processing in Lobatse.
SEZA has also identified key clusters like Gantsi, Tsabong, Ngamiland and Boteti as pertinent to revitalising Botswana’s meat industry as they account for a large portion of the national cattle and small-stock population.