A professor from University of Pretoria, Riëtte de Kock has said it is important for Botswana to produce own food instead of importing most of her food needs.
de Kock, who works in the University’s Department of Consumer and Food Sciences, said this at the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) Food Science and Technology (FST) Department’s Stakeholders Workshop in Gaborone recently.
“I hear that this country imports most of its foods from across the border. This can create a huge challenge in future. The neighbouring countries are also experiencing their own challenges such as high fuel prices, load shedding which affects production, shortage of water and so on. It is good for a country to be self-reliant when it comes to food security,” she said.
She said it was important for BUAN to prepare its students for the market and encourage them to embark on entrepreneurship. She added that the University had a role to play in ensuring sustainable food security in the country. de Kock added that the country should create employment opportunities for students.
She added that the Food Science and Technology department has a key role to play, adding that they had to ensure that they produce food with high quality, relevance and impact. She explained they had to serve a large and important value chain where they had to ensure that their products are safe, have improved shelf life and storage. “The food industry needs to make money in Africa. However, we have challenges such as population growth, urbanisation, economic situation and nutrition. I believe that our indigenous crops are important for the world in future. We can grow warmer temperature crops. I believe that we
“The challenge of eradicating hunger, transitioning to sustainable food systems and healthy diets in Africa and ensuring that SDGs are met within the planetary boundaries lies in our hands. Systemic, long-term perspectives are needed to ensure that activities synergise.”
Professor de Kock emphasised that food nutrition goes hand in hand with diversified foods from diversified crops. She called on governments to promote healthy and nutritious diets through diversification of food crops saying agricultural practices need not compromise with the regenerative capacity of the biosphere.
She added that maintaining the variety of life and the quality of soils underpins the agricultural sector for the long term, which in turn shapes human well being.
For his part, BUAN professor Gulelat Haki from the FST Department said the event’s objective was to bring stakeholders in the area of food science together and develop strategies for networking and collaboration in student training, research, consultancy and manufacturing.
The event was also meant to share the activities and accomplishment of the FST programme at BUAN and deliberate on how it can effectively serve the industry, research organisation and NGOs.
“Unemployment is very high so we want to create a forum for young food scientists to link with the food industry and other stakeholder who are the potential employers outlets for internship and to create an opportunity for the food industry to promote their products and services,” he said.