Let me express my profound gratitude for the invitation to participate in this Dialogue which has brought us together to discuss issues of food security in our continent – Africa. Global warming and harsh climatic conditions in many of our countries have more than ever, made it essential for us to find innovative solutions for farming and production of food for our populations. The Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 on ‘Poverty 2 Eradication’ and ‘Zero Hunger’ respectively, require us to provide innovative solutions that will eliminate hunger and poverty in our continent. The African Union has set its own target to eliminate hunger and food insecurity by 2025. However, achieving this target is in the distant horizon.
The theme for today’s Dialogue, ‘Feeding Africa: Leadership to Scale up successful Innovation’ could not have been more relevant. Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Botswana is a semi-arid nation susceptible to drought which is characterized by low and variable rainfalls, very hot temperatures, as well as outbreaks of pests. Recurring droughts continue to undermine our capacity to produce drought resistant indigenous seeds for food production. These challenges contribute to food shortages and a high food import bill which is not sustainable in the long run. With the view to improve food security in the country, it has become imperative for my Botswana to adopt disruptive Fourth Industrial Revolutions (4IR) technologies that will help us to transition from conventional to smart farming, and to move from sustenance to commercial agriculture.
My country’s long-term National Vision 2036 is a blueprint for this transformational agenda. The Vision has identified agriculture as one of the key drivers for national transformation and thus aims to create a sustainable, technology driven and commercially viable agricultural sector. Smart agriculture is therefore at the center of our development efforts. We have also adopted various policies and strategies to guide our interventions to revitalize our agriculture sector and improve our food systems and nutrition.Botswana has adopted a Climate Smart Agriculture Programme for 2015 to 2025 and is reviewing its National Policy on Agricultural Development to address emerging challenges such as climate change and to ensure alignment with Climate Smart Agricultural requirements.
Furthermore, Government has invested in research, technology and innovation to develop drought tolerant crops and animals to enhance the resilience of our food systems. We have national institutions such as the University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), the National Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARDI), as well as the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) which contribute to our endeavours to promote sustainable crop and animal production. Government continues to apportion a significant budget to support the agricultural sector. In February 2021, Parliament approved a P1.9 Billion budget or approximately, one hundred and eighty million United States Dollars (US$180 million) in pursuit of improved domestic food production. In addition, Botswana is in the process of developing a Green Climate Fund (GCF) Country Programme to promote sustainable agriculture. This will allow us to leverage on the Fund’s resources and technical expertise from development partners for implementation of sustainable agricultural practices.
Through the GCF Country Programme, we have identified programmatic areas that will support increased agricultural production and productivity through climate smart agriculture (CSA). This will also strengthen the capacity of communities to make use of climate resilient agricultural technologies. Furthermore, the GCF has recently approved a project at a total amount of US$97.6 million aimed at building resilience in the livestock industry in three Districts in Botswana, through ecosystem based adaptation and climate-responsive rangelands management. Botswana is expected to co-finance this project at fifty four million (USD 54 million) over a period of 8 years.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, many of our countries do not have the wherewithal of the much needed smart technologies and techniques for food and animal production. This requires us to strengthen partnerships and create networks with international development partners, the private sector, civil society, researchers and experts. My Government is very keen to attract investment into climate smart agriculture. As I have already indicated, most of our policies and programmes are being reviewed to make them relevant to today’s demands.
I want to conclude my remarks by making an appeal to our development partners, to support Botswana through capacity building, development, transfer and dissemination of smart farming technologies. My country is ready to facilitate investors and innovators in this area. I thank you very much for your attention.
𝐑𝐄𝐏𝐔𝐁𝐋𝐈𝐂 𝐎𝐅 𝐁𝐎𝐓𝐒𝐖𝐀𝐍𝐀 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐓𝐄𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓 𝐁𝐘 𝐇𝐈𝐒 𝐄𝐗𝐂𝐄𝐋𝐋𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐘 𝐃𝐑. 𝐌𝐎𝐊𝐆𝐖𝐄𝐄𝐓𝐒𝐈 𝐄. 𝐊. 𝐌𝐀𝐒𝐈𝐒𝐈 𝐎𝐍 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐎𝐂𝐂𝐀𝐒𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐇𝐈𝐆𝐇 𝐋𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐋 𝐕𝐈𝐑𝐓𝐔𝐀𝐋 𝐃𝐈𝐀𝐋𝐎𝐆𝐔𝐄 𝐎𝐍 “𝐅𝐄𝐄𝐃𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐀𝐅𝐑𝐈𝐂𝐀: 𝐋𝐄𝐀𝐃𝐄𝐑𝐒𝐇𝐈𝐏 𝐓𝐎 𝐒𝐂𝐀𝐋𝐄 𝐔𝐏 𝐒𝐔𝐂𝐂𝐄𝐒𝐒𝐅𝐔𝐋 𝐈𝐍𝐍𝐎𝐕𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍𝐒”