Minister of Agricultural Development & Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia has vowed that his ministry will do everything possible to intensify the fight against outbreak of tomato leaf miner which hit the eastern block of this country hardly two month ago.
Ralotsia who is also Member of Parliament for Kanye South revealed that the newly structured and revived ministry he heads will put all necessary measures from raising awareness, border control, seedling movement restrictions and so forth. This emerged this past week at Ramatlabama border gate where Ralotsia officially commissioned the digital Signage machine.
The digital signage machines are used to transmit bio security messages to different border posts, alerting travelers on bio security messages. Digital signage machines are sub segments of HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signage" o "Signage" signage techno-space equipment using technologies such as HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LCD" o "LCD" LCD, HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_display" o "LED display" LED and HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projection_screen" o "Projection screen" Projection to display content such as HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_images" o "Digital images" digital images, HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video" o "Video" video, HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streaming_media" o "Streaming media" streaming media, and information.
The Ministry of Agricultural Development & Food Security in partnership with Immigration department has adopted the system in an effort to improve border control compliance. According to officials at the ministry the installation of the machine came along with raising awareness to all stakeholders including consumers, agricultural products users and traders.
“We carried out a campaign exercises in 10 districts countrywide training consumers and disseminating information on declaration of agricultural products when crossing borders,” explained Mogomotsi Moatswi a Plant protection officer at the Ministry. Information gathered by WeekendPost also reveals that the compliance border project was financial supported by Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) at a tune of over 2 million pula.
Tomato leaf miner also known as Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is a highly destructive insect pest to tomato plants and fruit and is also reported to infest other plants in the Solanacaeae family (potato, eggplant, etc.). The pest which is classified to be of quarantine importance was detected in Botswana early December last year, hitting areas such as Bobirwa, Boteti, Chobe, North East, and North West. According to information from the Ministry of Agricultural development & Food Security Tomato leaf miner can cause up to 100% yield loss.
The main pathway for the Tomato leaf miner to spread from one area to another or from one country to another is through the movement of infested seedlings and tomato fruits. The Ministry, given the economic importance of Tomato leaf miner, then put in place a management strategy in which tomato and related crops importation was banned and traders deterred from moving solanaceous crops from the tomato leaf miner infested areas.
The signage machine installation project included the aspect of creating communication system of monitors which will transmit any new or relevant information to customer’s nation at boarders with regard to movement of agriculture products going in and out of the country. WeekendPost gathered that the commissioning of the digital signage was the last lap of the project which started in April 2015 and was expected to end this year in March. According to Moatswi Botswana University of Agriculture & Natural Resources (BUANR) extended a helping hand in training inspectors resourcing them with the ability and capacity to asses crops and animals at the boarder gates
For his part the Minister Ralotsia promised an all our fight against the epidemic that had hit farmers and now threatening Botswana’s food security efforts. “These diseases and pests do not necessarily originate from Botswana while some are brought in by travelers unintentionally and some brought in intentionally by individuals,” he said during the commissioning of the bio security machine in Ramatlabama. Ralotsia observed that the pest aftermaths are felt countrywide and the Tuta absoluta seem to have spread to all parts of the country.
Therefore, he said, there was need to control and contain the pest that was already in the country urging Batswana to cooperate in ensuring that the pest was not allowed any further. According to Ralotsia there is need for everyone to be alert of this pest as it is not only a problem for the ministry. He added that already the impact of the tomato leaf miner is evident with prices now high and shelves sometime empty in retail stores. The minister emphasized that at the moment the ministry has closed down all imports of these vegetables in efforts to control and contain the pest. He expressed worry over indicated that the tomato leaf miner outbreak jeopardised international market and local distribution.
Observers note that the tomato leaf miner could in a short term crush the efforts at Selibe National Agro Processing Plant which process 32 tonnes of tomato per month to tomato source. It is believed that if the things continue the way they are soon the NAFTEC owned tomato source producing plant will run short of pure raw material. NAPRO gets majority of their raw material supply from Bobirwa region plantations, one of the areas hit by Tuta Absoluta.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.