Will it suite the year 2014?
African Union has declared the year 2014 as the year of agriculture hence, member states at the highest level must do something to make sure that this is a success.
Agriculture as discribed by the Minister of Finance and Development planning Mr Kenneth Matambo in national budget is a sector with potential for growth and employment creation is Agriculture. Unfortunately, the performance of this sector has been dismal due to inadequate rainfall and recurring drought.
This has presented a great challenge to growth of this sector, which by nature, is a highly labour intensive undertaking with potential to absorb a majority of the unskilled to semiskilled unemployed citizens.
Despite the challenges of constrained growth associated with natural disasters such as drought and diseases, Government continues to assist the agricultural sector. The Livestock Advisory Centres, for example, continue to sell some livestock feeds at subsidised prices. In addition, Government is seeking to secure additional markets for the beef industry, with promising prospects in the Middle East and Zimbabwe. Under arable farming, different types of farmers have been identified as subsistence, emerging and commercial. Assistance to these farmers will be targeted, depending on their situation.
In addition, the horticulture sub-sector has also been boosted bythe inclusion of irrigated farming under Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD), where farmers contribute 60 percent while Government contributes 40 percent towards the costs of installing irrigation equipment.
Meanwhile, the design of the main water conveyance pipeline from Chobe/Zambezi to the Zambezi agro-commercial Project site was completed in October 2013 and construction is expected to commence during 2014/15 financial year. Upon completion, the project will contribute significantly to irrigated agriculture particularly horticulture.
Government assistance is aimed at encouraging production in the agricultural sector, but most importantly, to graduate more farmers into commercial entities capable of creating decent jobs for Batswana. Agrinews