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Horticulture shows growth

LERATO MALEKE
The acting Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia says horticulture has shown a steady growth over the years through the support of relevant programmes, which provide subsidised farm inputs and appropriate extension support.

Presenting his Ministry’s budget, he said that the Ministry’s recurrent budget proposal for the financial year 2015/2016 is P1,066,180,430, which represents an increase of P58,015,940 over the approved current year’s budget of P1,008,164,490.

However, Ralotsia said that the main challenge to horticultural production is poor marketing.

To address this challenge he said that the Botswana Horticulture Market is being transformed from the agency model to the wholesale model to provide a reliable and sure market for local horticulture produce to boost production.

He said that the transformation was delayed by the need to do some structural changes to the existing market facility and due to the extensive consultations that need to be done with stakeholders.

Among other things, the minister said that honey production is one of the agricultural enterprises that can realise growth from improving its productivity.

To support the bee farmers, Ralotsia said that the ministry has established a bee-keeping multiplication and demonstration farm in Ramatlabama next to NAMPAAD farm.

He added that this is in addition to the bee colony multiplication station that is being established in Jwaneng, which he said he briefed the House about last year.

Ralotsia also revealed that the ministry is also working through the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) to have the board take over the Livestock Advisory Centre services to improve the service delivery through the centres.

BAMB is also expected to

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open new outlets in Jwaneng, Bobonong and Tutume to get closer to the farmers.

The ministry is also in the process of merging institutions that have their primary function as research, being the National Food Technology Research Centre, the Department of Agricultural Research and the National Veterinary Laboratory.

Ralotsia said that a company that will host the institution has been registered under the name National Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARDI) and that the process to appoint the directors of the company is on going.

The minister revealed that the government has adopted the cluster development approach as a practical strategy to achieve economic growth and diversification and that the beef cluster is one of the clusters identified on which work has started. “To have a viable livestock sector in the country it needs to be export-based and hence control of animal diseases remains paramount,” he said.

In this regard the ministry has made significant progress in the control of foot and mouth disease.

The minister also revealed that despite the occasional spikes of outbreaks such as at Mohembo and Tubu, which have both been controlled successfully, the disease situation in the country is stable and that restocking in Zones 6 and 7 is complete except for dairy cattle.

He said that the compensation for dairy cattle would be completed before the end of this financial year.



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