Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) has said it is working around the clock to play a part in the resuscitation of the once formidable Botswana agriculture sector.
LEA chief executive officer, Racious Moatshe said in an interview they have targeted the sector as a way of reviving some of the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
He revealed that they have started training people at Glen Valley in Gaborone north as a way of preparing them to start production in the horticultural space.
“We have been training people for nine months at Glen Valley and have three net shades where we are going to have SMMEs coming on to start production,” Moatshe told MonitorBusiness.
Glen Valley Farm sits on 13-hectares of land on Gaborone’s northern outskirts, with nine hectares used for olives, 0.5 hectares for butternuts and another 0.25 hectares for peppers and tomatoes.
Moatshe said the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security has given them an eight hectares of land at Dikabeya farm.
Dikabeya is located 20 kilometres north of Palapye, with five hectares open field and one hectare for protected cultivation.
“We realised that after completion, these farmers usually struggle to acquire land to pursue their passion of farming and some end up giving up,” he added.
Moatshe noted that preparations were underway at Dikabeya and they were hopeful to have started production
In addition, he said they have also identified 66 hectares at Madikwe where they have been scaling them up in order to meet the local production.
The CEO added they are assisting SMMEs with market access, and have been in negotiations with retail stores to assist in this regard.
“We have called in potential retailers to give us their demands of types of crops they would need in the next cycle of six months. We wanted to get an idea of what products will go straight to the market after harvesting,” he said.
SMMEs have been struggling to access markets for their products, owing to a number of factors like low product and service quality, preference of imports by some markets, incapacity and inconsistency in production and absence of deliberate policy instruments or mechanisms to protect the local suppliers.
For the past decades, high numbers of local SMMEs have failed in their first phase of operation, which is normally the first three to five years.
Those that survive usually continue to operate in conditions of uncertainty due to market volatility, intense competitive rivalry, lack of marketing skills and shortage of serviced land.