President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi’s efforts of being the ‘Agriculture President’, being a farmer himself, are going against the grain as statistics show that this country’s supposedly food producing sector is almost moribund.
BusinessPost has compiled data which shows that the mainstay of Botswana’s Agriculture sector (cattle), which is a source of food for households and beef export, has its numbers hit by the scourge of drought while commercial farming is almost non-existent in this country and would not make any statistical movement.
There are many alarming anomalies in the latest Annual Agricultural Survey Report 2019 where some vital data was seen as too trivial that it cannot make it to national statistics and 2018 farming statistics were omitted due to absence of survey that year.
The latest Agriculture survey said while Botswana consists of two distinct sectors, namely the commercial and the traditional sectors; the agricultural survey carried out in 2019 covered the traditional sector while the commercial sector coverage was low and as such cannot be used to produce meaningful results to guide policy and decision making. According to Stats Bots, the results of the 2019 survey will be compared with the 2017 survey results since there was no survey in 2018.
President Masisi cannot be relying on the available statistics which have omissions and staggering findings. Masisi was subleased Banyana Farms for 14 years this year but the recent statistics do not show this country is making strides, if anything we are going against the outward passion for farming by the President has shown.
Masisi’ passion comes a long way, when he was still Vice President and that was the last time the agriculture survey was conducted. In 2017 before he became President, he told African leaders to increase efforts of achieving sustainable employment opportunities and food security on the continent by transforming the agricultural sector.
But locally statistics tell a melancholy story that contradicts Masisi’s dream as the cattle enterprise under the Livestock production subsector which showed a decline in 2019. Arable production showed a downward production trend in all the major crops compared to the 2017 Annual Agricultural Survey results.
“Cattle population for the traditional sector dropped from 1.1 million in 2017 to 935 000 in 2019. The decline in cattle population is attributed to an increase in cattle deaths from 64 447 in 2017 to 102 255 in 2019. Cattle lost due to straying/theft are lower than the 79 799 in 2017 but still considerably high at 53 571 in 2019. This indicates that a significant number of cattle were lost due to straying/theft in 2017 and 2019,” said the survey.
While the increase in cattle birth rate from 47.3 percent to 56.5 percent, the mortality rate offset that twice over, doubling from 5.9 percent in 2017 to 10.9 percent in 2019 and off-take rate enlarged from 5.5 percent to 7.0 percent during the same period.
According to the statistics, the mortality is attributed to the severe drought that ravaged the country during the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons. The scourge of drought became a menace in this country’s agriculture as both the years 2017/18 and 2018/19 were declared drought years for the whole country (Botswana Environment Statistics, Natural and Technological Disasters Digest 2019) and as such the decline in both crop and livestock production indicators is attributed to drought.
Botswana has been a drought country since 2001, and this continued for two decades save for the 2008/2009 and 2013/2014 seasons which were never declared as drought periods. The Prevalence of Food Insecurity which was released recently posted that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.
“The whole country was declared drought stricken during these periods: 2001-2005; 2007-2008; 2011-2013; 2014-2015; and 2016-2019. This report further reveals that cereal production does not meet the country’s cereal requirements, resulting in over dependence on imports. A total of BWP9.53 Billion was used to import cereals (maize, rice, sorghum, millet and wheat) during the period 2010-2019,” said the latest Statistics Botswana report.
The 2019 drought statistics suggests that the traditional crop sector experienced poor harvest compared to 2017. Sorghum production recorded a substantial reduction from 5,975 metric tons in 2017 to 826 metric tons (86.2 percent) in 2019. Maize production also experienced a huge reduction from 13,911 metric tons to a staggering 987 metric tons (92.9 percent), while millet production dropped from 1,099 metric tons to 313 metric tons (71.5 percent) in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
The beans/pulses also realized a significant reduction in production from 2,348 metric tons in 2017 to 583 metric tons (75.2 percent) between the 2017 and 2019 agricultural seasons. About 85 percent of Botswana’s agricultural output is derived from livestock production, mainly cattle. It is estimated that Botswana imported P6.32 million worth of food and agricultural products in 2014.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity which was recently released by Statistics Botswana show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.
When opening Mosisedi 4th Harvest Day in May, Masisi said the agricultural sector remained important to livelihoods of most Botswana citizens. Government had put in place numerous programmes and policies such as Integrated Support Program for Rain-fed Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD), Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development Programme (LIMID), and the Policy on National Food Security aimed at enhancing the sector.
The president further said these development initiatives were aimed at enhancing the lives of the majority of citizens especially those who lived in rural areas. President Masisi said Mosisedi farmers were a source of inspiration to many Batswana, particularly young farmers. He said the farmers had proven beyond doubt that commercial farming in the country was viable. Masisi believes young farmers are also inspired to venture into farming, but statistics are on the contrary.
According to the Annual Agricultural Survey Report 2019, the participation of youth in agriculture is still low, out of a total of 54,908 traditional farmers/holders countrywide, only 5.3 percent were aged between 15 and 35 years. The statistics further said the majority of farmers were in the 65 year age group and above (34.9 percent) and between 55-59 years at 12.4 percent.
Farming is still a man’s business if the released statistics are anything to go by. In the 2019 agricultural season, male farmers continued to dominate farming at 63.1 percent compared to their female counterparts with only 36.9 percent participation.
The land issue
International reports suggests that Botswana’s agricultural potential is limited due to the Kalahari Desert that occupies a large area in the country. The same study gives credence to the local survey of 2019 as it states that the subsistence/traditional farming are the norm with less than a 1,000 commercial farming enterprises.
Masisi on the other hand believes that he turn the country into a commercial farming force. In May at Mosisedi, Masisi said government would “fast track land allocation for commercial agriculture.” He also talked of government offering funding to farmers, so that they can help food insecurity and make Botswana a food exporter. Agriculture accounts for about 3 percent of Botswana’s GDP. In 2019, agriculture contributed around 1.95 percent to the GDP of Botswana, 28.3 percent came from the industry and 60.62 percent from the services sector.
When trying to convince African leaders about the importance of farming in 2017, Masisi said 50 per cent of available land in Africa was suitable for agriculture, but the sector was hindered from performing at its full potential by challenges such as drought, diseases, low productivity and lack of appropriate technology.
According to Stats Bots, compared to 2017 agricultural survey results, there was a decrease in area planted and area harvested for all the crops in 2019 except for millet which remained the same. The crop sector recorded substantially low yields during the 2019 season when compared to the 2017 cropping season, in terms of both yield per hectare planted and yield per hectare harvested.
The yields per hectare planted for sorghum dropped from 251 kg/ha in 2017 to 48 kg/ha in 2019, while maize yield was 225kg/ha in 2017 but dropped to 25kg/ha in 2019. The millet yield reduced from 353 kg/ha to 91kg/ha between 2017 and 2019 respectively, while the yield for pulses also showed a marked reduction from 86 kg/ha to 31 kg/ha between 2017 and 2019 survey years respectively.
The UK based research entity, Fitch Solutions Group recent forecasts indicate that household spending in Botswana could increase, following the recent decline in inflation.
In the recent statement Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) noted that headline inflation decreased significantly from 4.6 percent in June to 1.5 percent in July 2023, breaching the lower bound of the Bankâ€™s medium-term objective range of 3 â€“ 6 percent and added that the fall in inflation was mainly due to the dissipating impact of the earlier increase in domestic fuel prices in the corresponding period in 2022. â€śFurthermore, inflation fell on account of the downward adjustment in domestic fuel prices effected on June 21, 2023. Inflation is forecast at 1.2 percent for August 2023 and the MPC projects that inflation will remain below the lower bound of the objective range temporarily and revert to within the objective range from the first quarter of 2024 into the medium term.â€ť
In the recent forecasts Fitch Solutions Group noted that easing food and transport costs are expected to support strong demand for goods and services over the second half of 2023 and 2024 and boost consumer spending. â€śOur outlook for consumer spending in Botswana over 2023 is positive, with downward food and transport price pressures supporting easing inflation over H223 and presenting tailwinds to spending. Over 2024, we believe the Bank of Botswana will begin its rate cutting cycle due to inflation returning to a downward trajectory over Q423 and Q124, driving spending over the year.â€ť
According to the entity household spending is expected to grow by 5.1 percent. â€śWe forecast real total household spending (2010 prices) will grow by 5.1% y-o-y over 2023, an acceleration from 4.8% y-o-y growth in 2022. This will take real total spending up to BWP62.4bn. We project the positive growth trajectory to continue over 2024, with consumer spending growing by 4.4% y-o y.â€ť
Researchers from the entity indicated that inflation in Botswana has begun easing due to declining food and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as transport price pressures. â€śIn June 2023 inflation slowed to 4.6% y-o-y in June 2023, down from 12.7% y-o-y in June 2022. We believe the lagged impact of central bank monetary policy will feed through to downward inflationary pressures over the remainder of H223 and into Q124, presenting tailwinds to spending. Our Country Risk team forecasts inflation to average 6.3% y-o-y over 2023, before ending the period at 4.2% y-o-y. Over 2024, inflation will average 4.1% y-o-y, returning to the central bank’s target rate of 3-6%.â€ť
The researchers stated that 2023/24 national budget shows that around BWP15.0bn (USD1.15bn) will be allocated towards strengthening human capital and skills development in the country, while BWP10.3bn (USD792.3mn) will be allocated for health. â€śThis decreases the need for consumers to pay for these services out of their wages. The effects that increasing level of investment by the government into skills development and improving the health of citizens on the disposable income outlook is threefold. Firstly, the investment decreases the need for consumers to pay for these services out of their wages, and thus boosts the level of disposable income. Secondly, citizens enter the workforce with a higher level of skills and can thus command a higher wage/salary, and thirdly, with improving levels of health and access to health services, workers are able to return to work quicker and overall this improves their wage prospects and the general productivity of the labour force. These factors will provide a boost to the longer-term employment outlook in Botswana.â€ť
Fitch Solutions Group meanwhile noted that unemployment, high interest rates and income inequality is a key risk to the consumer outlook during the second half of 2023 and 2024. â€śHigh unemployment, elevated interest rates and persistent income inequality will, however, present downside risks to demand, limiting spending growth.â€ť
The research entity noted that the level of unemployment in Botswana remains high, at 23.8% of the labour force in 2023 and added that this is slightly below the 24.1% average in 2022. â€śHowever, despite decreasing from a peak of 24.9% and 24.7% in 2020 and 2021 respectively, unemployment has not returned to the pre-pandemic level of 22.6% in 2019. Weak investments in agriculture and manufacturing will keep employment limited with low economic diversification and high-income inequality exacerbating the risk of social stability.â€ť
Minergy Limited, the Botswana Stock Exchange listed mining company operating Masama Coal Mine in Medie near Lentsweletau, has decided to part ways with mining contractor Jarcon, the company announced on Tuesday.
In a circular to the market Minergy revealed that it has issued a notice to terminate its mining contract with Jarcon Opencast Mining Botswana (Pty) Ltd. In the notice, Minergy Coal will terminate the mining contract in 30 days.
The company, financial backed by state owned Mineral Development Corporation (MDC) and Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), said termination of the mining contract is “in line with the strategic intent of the Board of Directors and the financiers of Minergy, to stabilise operations and bring the business to sustainable profitability”.
During this transition period, arrangements have been made to ensure business continuity and minimal disruption in coal supply to clients, by inter alia using stock holdings available.
The market was further informed that the process of appointing a new mining contractor is at an advanced stage and a final decision will be communicated in due course.
Minergy operates a privately developed coal mine in Medie near Lentsweletau, the company has been facing financial challenges recently leading to operational slow down early this year due to unsettled debt to mining contactor. MDCB later came to the rescue, bailing out the company to ensure business continuity.
According to letters to employees dated 25 August 2023, seen by this publication, Jarcon, Masama’ s mining contractor has warned its employees of possible job cuts as Minergy financial challenges persists, citing reduction in demand for coal and fall in prices for the product.
Minergy said du Plessis tendered his resignation to pursue other interests. Mr. du Plessis will however remain available and dedicated to Minergy during his notice period ending 30 November 2023.
Bagopi is tasked with ensuring augmented management capacity at the mine and ensure business continuity.
An alumnus of Camborne School of Mines, Mr. Bagopi is described as a seasoned mining professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry in various mining commodities, starting his career at graduate level and ascending to executive management.
Mr Bagopi has been instrumental and at the leading edge of developing coal markets for Botswana coal at Morupule Coal Mine in the region as well as internationally.
He brings forth a well-established network of strategic partnerships and collaborations in the industry, ranging from operations, technical, commercialÂ and business development, projects development, having paved the path for the development of MCM corporate strategy, before joining the MDCB as Chief Technical Officer, overseeing technical aspects of MDCBâ€™s mining investment.
Masama has capacity to produce 1.5 million tonnes of coal per year and is the smaller of two coal mines currently in operation in Botswana, the other being the state-owned Morupule Coal Mine, with 4.2 million tonne capacity.
Minergyâ€™s latest annual report shows that as of June 2022, the company owed the mining contractor 79 million pula after a debt restructuring exercise. It also owed BDC 125 million pula and MDCB some 295 million pula.
Strong demand, mostly from Europe due to the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, drove Minergyâ€™s exports up 53% in the half-year to Dec.31, boosting its earnings and helping it to reduce debt.
However, weakening coal prices and logistical challenges it faces when hauling coal from landlocked Botswana to export markets have impacted Minergy’s earnings.
Â Dr. Malebogo Kebabonye, Bomaid Chief Clinical Services Officer
The healthcare system is a crucial and yet fragile one, in any scenario we look at it within. The reality we face is an overburdened healthcare system, taking an even greater toll since the COVID-19 pandemic. The pressure gaps and issues we face are now clearer than ever before to see, and the time to act is now. At the same time, as we look at this healthcare crisis, we recognise it is not for Botswana alone to experience, not to solve â€“ this is a global phenomenon we are seeing in many markets. But how are we solving for it? And is the onus on healthcare providers alone?
The concept of value-based healthcare is fast becoming a go-to, and with good reason. However, it is not new. Indeed, it has been around for some time and has been a primary focus for work delivered by, for example, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and even the World Health Organisation (WHO). Value-based care ties the amount health care providers earn for their services to the results they deliver for their patients and aims at promoting quality of care over the quantity of services. There is less focus on frequency of healthcare interventions or doctor visits, and rather, priority is placed on the quality of care and the progress experienced for the customer or patient. Ultimately, this approach improves overall health and wellbeing of the population and has proven effective in such markets as Kenya, the US, the UK, and in the public sector of Botswana.
According to the World Economic Forum, â€śThe widely accepted definition of value in healthcare is the health outcomes that matter to patients relative to the resources or costs required to deliver those outcomes.Â Value-based healthcareÂ is an approach that aligns industry stakeholders (payers, providers, pharma/MedTech and policymakers) around a shared objective of improving patient health outcomes, providing autonomy and accountability to providers to pursue the best way to deliver healthcare for the money spent. The transition fromÂ volume-basedÂ toÂ value-basedÂ healthcare will inevitably lead to more healthy societies while optimising resources
As Bomaid, we have adopted the Value Based Care approach locally, it is in line with one of our key strategic pillars of improving holistic wellness which is patient centred and anchored in Primary Health Care. It helps better manage healthcare costs which are ultimately borne by customers through annual subscription increases and other out of pocket expenses, recognising that medical providers alone are not the only agents of change in this space â€“ medical aid providers are crucial to supporting the wider ecosystem growth and betterment.
Patient centered care or personalised care, on the other hand, focuses on the individual’s particular healthcare needs. The goal of patient-centered healthcare is to empower patients to become active participants in management of their care. Core to the principles of patient centred care is personalisation and individual accountability towards one’s own health. Value-based healthcare focuses on maximising patient healthcare outcomes and harnessing resources to better deliver on this while reducing inequity in health outcomes and promoting high impact interventions. This is, ultimately, what Bomaid strives to do in working towards delivering, first things first, health, happiness and holistic wellbeing.
So how do we deliver on a value-based healthcare sustainably and meaningfully?
It begins with mindset, yes. But this is swiftly followed by many tangible factors too: the right systems; the right infrastructure; the right resources; The right regulatory environment. It means putting holistic patient wellbeing and health first, as well as removing inefficiencies that would otherwise result in cost burdens on patients, as well as unimproved health outcomes â€“ always being ill, never seeing real recovery.
The WEF further notes, â€śThis high-cost burden can, in part, be the consequence of inefficiencies in the healthcare system, such as fragmented and uncoordinated care delivery, poor data governance, workforce shortages and underinvestment in preventive care. The OECD estimates that up to 20% of healthcare spending across its member countries is unnecessary or ineffective. Accordingly, spending more doesnâ€™t always lead to improved patient outcomes. So, addressing these inefficiencies would help reduce costs and make healthcare more equitable and accessible.â€ť
As we strive for healthier, happier people across the nation, how do we help leverage value-based care to ensure better healthcare outcomes are the only acceptable result, and that we help ensure quality and relevant, appropriate healthcare is equitable, accessible, and inclusive?
It is not for us to suggest our approach is by any means a silver bullet, but it is one worth exploring, because the global results speak for themselves. Now, how do we collectively mobilise in recognition of the fact that some discomfort for the industry now means progress for our patients and customers? This, after all, remains our priority.
Aligned to the Botswana Government through the Ministry of Health strategic agenda for Primary Health Care Revitalisation, the time is now to refocus the Private Health Care system towards a value based care to create sustainability and resilience in our health sector as a country.
Dr. Kebabonye ( Bomaid Chief Clinical Services Officer) is a public health specialist who joined Bomaid in 2023 as Chief Clinical Services Officer. In this role, she is mandated to develop and implement clinical strategies and policies which support the business in providing healthcare solutions, finding access to affordable leading-edge healthcare and innovations. This works to help enable healthier, happier lives through proactive and preventative products to attract younger healthier clients, whilst still providing reactive rehabilitation healthcare solutions.Â Â