Productivity in Agriculture a Must

| May 7, 2015

Productivity within the agricultural sector needs to be enhanced as it can contribute more to the economy than it currently does, Minister of Agriculture, Mr Patrick Ralotsia, has said.

Speaking during launch of the Botswana-New Zealand Beef Productivity Training Project at Ramatlabama Ranch Management Training Centre (RRMTC) on May 5, Mr Ralotsia said with approximately 75 per cent of the population dependent on agriculture, the sector was surely a core of the economy.

Mr Ralotsia said the beef sector contributed approximately 80 per cent of the total agricultural contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was an indication that Batswana depended directly or indirectly on cattle for their livelihoods.

He said the agricultural sector, therefore, remained an important source of food, income and employment as well as investment opportunities for the majority of the population in rural areas.

He also said government had identified agriculture as pivot to addressing the challenges of food security, poverty eradication, socio-economic growth and environmental management.

He said the cattle population stood at around 2.5 million but the beef productivity within the industry was low. The setback, he said, was among others because most cattle were kept under communal arrangements while ownership was also dominated by small scale farmers.

As things were, the minister said, small scale farmers accounted for 80 per cent of cattle population while the remaining 20 per cent was owned by commercial farmers in fenced farms.

Moreover, Minister Ralotsia noted that other challenges such as drought, slow adoption of technology and animal disease that posed threat to the development of the beef sector.

He said the outbreak of trans-boundary animal disease such as foot and mouth had impacted on the much needed foreign exchange earnings from international beef markets. He said productivity of the beef sector remained low with the average national calving rate estimated at 53 per cent against an ideal of 80 per cent.

However, he said government was committed to developing the beef sector as it gave the country a comparative aantage since Botswana was one of the largest beef exporters in Africa.

He said government had put in place schemes and interventions such as demarcation of ranches under the tribal grazing land policy of 1975 followed by fencing component of the 1991 national policy on agricultural development, the national artificial insemination service, the bull subsidy schemes, the weaner production strategy and Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development to promote and support development of the beef industry.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Business & Finance

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