The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security has partnered with the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) support beekeeping and fishery projects in the country.
The two’s entities recently launched two projects being the ‘Response to COVID-19 Assistance to Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries Sectors of Botswana’ and ‘Strengthening Botswana Apiculture Value Chain Through Coordination and Capacity Development’.
The two projects, launched under the FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), support institutions, farmer associations and other entities as target beneficiaries by providing technical inputs such as short-term experts and consultants, short term practical training or equipment and supplies related to training.
Agriculture Minister, Karabo Gare said the technical cooperation is aimed at understanding and addressing the main constraints and challenges in both honey value chain as well as the development of the aquaculture industry and inland fisheries by removing barriers and constraints that are inhibiting their growth.
“The projects will play a major role in rural socio-economic development and environmental conservation by maintaining various plant ecosystems,” he said at the recent launch.
The current local production for fish is 350 tonnes per annum, which constitutes seven percent of the national demand according to available data.
On the other hand, Botswana currently produces 13% of the national demand for honey which is estimated at 62 tonnes per annum. The deficit is met through imports, which in 2019
“The honeybee industry has great potential that could be leveraged, unfortunately the sector still remains widely untapped as most beekeepers in rural areas still use traditional production techniques,” Gare added.
FAO Representative in Botswana, Dr Rene Czudek said the TCP was created to enable FAO to make its knowledge and technical expertise available to member countries upon request.
The two projects are part of a portfolio of 15 ongoing initiatives by FAO in Botswana, which together represent an investment of more than U$5 million (about P55m). The TCP on strengthening the apiculture value chain is funded to the tune of U$96,000 while that on aquaculture and inland fisheries is worth U$91,000.
Other projects within the portfolio address management of the fall armyworm, development of national food based dietary guidelines, capacity building for horticulture farmers and development of a national horticulture strategy, development of CBNRM legislation, emergency locust response and preparedness as well as land degradation assessment, monitoring and development of a restoration strategy.
FAO continues to pursue additional financial resources through the Global Environment Facility, European Union, Green Climate Fund and other donors all geared towards supporting Botswana’s development agenda, Czudek said.