Food production is regarded as one of the cornerstones of the security of any country and a determinant for political stability thereof.
Sustainable food production, in the form of crop cultivation and livestock rearing are a source of dignity for the citizenry and provide legitimacy for any government.
It is against this backdrop that we commend a joint venture project between a South African national and a Motswana for the production of bananas and mangoes in Nxaraga in the Ngamiland. The duo said during a press tour last week, which was graced by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Production, Patrick Ralotsia that the project cost them P10 million to set up.
They also said they had tried other crops such as maize and wheat, which they found were not suitable for the area.
They finally settled for mangoes and bananas in the 500 hectare piece of land. What is most interesting about the joint venture is that the Motswana owns the land whilst the South African is the investor.
This is the kind of joint ventures that Batswana should go for instead of selling their ploughing fields. Despite constant droughts that hit the area, the Ngamiland has a potential for projects such as this because of vast land and its proximity to the Okavango Delta. There is plenty of underground water that can be used for irrigation and production of food.
The biggest challenge that still remains is the roaming of wildlife that destroys crops, spreads diseases such as Foot and Mouth, and kills humans. There is plenty of water in the Okavango Delta.
The water could be used for food production, especially for crops such as rice and maize. Being a dry country, efforts by the government to promote agriculture, particularly crop production are not bearing fruit because of droughts that visit almost every two years. The Okavango could be the breadbasket of the country going hand in hand with tourism.
There should be a way the movement of wildlife can be controlled to allow crop production in the wetlands.
We hope that the authorities will work on policies to allow commercial crop production to take place in the Okavango Delta alongside wildlife conservation.
It is our belief that National Parks are playing a critical role in wildlife conservation and therefore wildlife vis-à-vis tourism should not thrive at the expense of other sectors of the economy. We should promote crop production in the Ngamiland and Okavango areas to boost our food security and reduce reliance on imports.
“I do a lot of reading about food and the food industry, so I try to eat locally and go to the farmer’s market.”
– Nikki Reed