African Agriculture recently unveiled their new tractor brand that will be assembled locally at an event held in partnership with the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN).
The first tractor to be assembled was steered by BUAN students under the agricultural engineering department working under the tutelage of the professors and the AA employees. The tractor aptly named the YTO, ‘BHERO’ tractor is the first endeavor of its kind. Officiating at the event, President Mokgweetsi Masisi praised African Agriculture for its continued partnership with the university and its contributions to the agricultural sector through business operations. “I am informed that this tractor which is assembled by graduate students studying agricultural engineering and mechanization will be used for training purpose, as you are aware food security is on the top of our national development agenda. Therefore the assembling of the tractors in Botswana by Botswana will take this country far in terms of food production and competitiveness in the region.” Masisi said. He said it is also important to note that African Agriculture is also modifying implements for the tractors locally.
Theimplements are specially adapted to the Botswana environment which is a welcome development as it is in line with smart agricultural practices to mitigate the effects of climate change. He further pointed out that African Agriculture is expected to assemble up to 200 tractors annually once the organisation begins full production.
The acting Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Beauty Manake said “I must admit i saw this one coming as it is in line with what we promised in our election manifesto that we will promote and implement the domestification of plant assembly in the agricultural sector”. She also said the government has been continuously facilitating and enabling public institutions to partner with the private sector alluding to the BUAN and AA partnership. Manake stated that assembling the tractors locally is a significant investment that will likely reduce prices of tractors making them more affordable to most farmers.
She said this will also enable the sufficient cultivation of land to increase yields and further ensure the attainment of the development of the rural economies through the agricultural transformation.
On the tractor assembly, she urged that two organisations to formalize the arrangement into a fully fledged graduate development program to ensure more graduates leave the university with more skills and knowledge that will assist in diversifying the economy. Speaking on behalf of African Agriculture, service centre manager Obakeng Letsema pointed out that there is a major concern in terms of the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical experience towards recruitment and employability of youth to the educational establishments and employers in Botswana.
He said it was one of the reasons why African Agriculture decided to bring in students into the assembly of the tractor in order for them to gain practical knowledge on top of the theoritical knowledge acquired in class. BUAN and African Agriculture have been partnering on various endeavours to contribute to the academic and research portfolios of the University, currently they are also partnering in the Dry land rice production project along with other projects.