Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Racious Moatshe has called on key players in the food production sector, including financiers to intensify their efforts in order create jobs and achieve food self-sufficiency.
Speaking at the LEA Agricultural Entrepreneur Glen Valley Horticultural Incubation, Dr Moatshe, emphasized the importance of Agriculture as a sector that has a number of potentials; first being income generator, second being employment creation and the third being, an investment opportunity for both locals and foreigners.
The LEA CEO said these potentials can only be harnessed if Batswana would assume their responsibilities and collaborating in efforts, to change the agricultural landscape altogether.
Dr Moatshe made passionate expressions against what he termed ‘market players’.He said Batswana should acknowledge that it is impossible to have goods of the same standard, therefore they should throw up the mentality of comparing and choosing foreign agricultural products over local ones.
He noted that there are instances when farmers have to sell below their production costs because locals get the same products from retails.,He further pointed a finger at research officers. “Those who have been set by the government to carry out scientific research, which could be applied in helping to reform the Agricultural sector and other sectors, what are they doing?” he said.
He advised that, the financier models be thoroughly looked into, as the tendency of only funding viable and thriving businesses is not ideal.“Who takes the responsibility of training and monitoring SMME’s from pre-start up, through start-up to the level of viability?” he said, reiterating that, at this point, everyone across different sectors must be reflecting on how they can facilitate better in helping agriculture sector grow.
While trying to bring in a ray of hope into the hearts of many he said, “Import restrictions are meant for us farmers, market players, those who offer support to begin to think and realign. Perhaps to look into our models to ensure there is flexibility and value coming at deliberate cost for farmers to take advantage,” he said.
While appealing to the insurance sector, Dr Moatshe said the agricultural sector has been there long enough that there must be insurance services covering it.“You must have devised tailor made policies for this sector, because open field farming is not sustainable so the other system needs insurance policies,” he said.
Dr Moatshe holds a very firm view that, although the government has introduced laws and regulations that makes some of the things compulsory, the willing heart and mind is better than an instrument of law that forces people to do what they, intentionally do not want to do.
He said whatever instrument of law on agriculture, Batswana should learn constructive ways of building their economy and empowering each other.The CEO at LEA could not hide his sentiments on retailers. He cautioned that, retailers should and must consider investing in Agricultural produce than being producers, leading to monopoly and death of budding SMMEs.
“Sometimes we perpetuate exploitation without necessary being cautious of it, by producing what the farmers have produced, and are trying to put in the market” he explained. Dr Moatshe emphasized that the country cannot afford to live well with the status-quo, citing that as retail stores produce for themselves, farmer’s produce do not find any niche in the market and the produce then is left to rot on the fields.
He stressed the need for all farmers to register their production on the Market Intelligence Monitoring System, advising farmers to overtly give out information about their produce as that will help Botswana as a country. “There is no country that can be successful and effective without necessary data,” he alluded.
Dr Moatshe further noted that, the honours is on locals, to change the landscape.“We all have a role to play, until we, all do what’s needed, and the country will continue to suffer while we have ample opportunities to change the status-quo. It is time we influence rigorously and more intently the development of SMME’s through all ways” he said.
Prices for cereals or staple foods in Botswana and other Southern African countries continue to rise at a slower pace, following trends in the global markets, according to the latest November 2022 Food Price Monitoring and Analysis by Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
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Botswana Institution Of Engineers (BIE), has last week hosted a gala dinner in which they appreciated engineers who worked tirelessly and with dedication for 10 years from 1983 to steer the BIE to its current status.
The event that was held at the Phakalane Golf Estate had brought together young, experienced and veteran engineers and was held under the theme “Vitalize the dignity and eminence of all professional engineers”.
Explaining the theme, the institution’s treasurer, Thanabalasingam Raveendran said that engineers were looked upon reverentially with respect as the educated but with time it seems to have deteriorated. He indicated that there is a need to change the narrative by all means.
“The BIE exists for the welfare and the betterment of us Botswana engineers, we need to recognize specialised units within our Institution. We Engineers strongly believe in Engineers make it happen” Raveendran said.
He indicated that under the theme they appeal to all engineers to energize, to attain quality of being worthy of honour and respect and to achieve recognized superiority amongst the Society.
Raveendran stated that engineers need to ensure their end product is of good quality satisfying the end users expectations and engineers must be honest in their work.
“Approximately 8000 engineers registered with Engineering Regulatory Board (ERB) are not members of the BIE, engineers need to make every effort to recruit them to BIE” he said.
He alluded that BIE being a society, it currently needs to upgrade itself at par with professional institutions elsewhere like the UK and USA.
He further stated that BIE has to have engineering units of specialised disciplines like Civil/Mechanical/electrical etc
“As President Masisi indicated in his inaugural speech, the young people, who make 60 percent of the population of this country, are the future leaders and therefore investing in them is building the bridge to the future” said Raveendran
Kandima indicated that BIE has a memorandum of Understanding with Engineers Registration Board (ERB), where BIE is a recognised provider of CPD training, mentorship programmes and more importantly IPD undertaking to upgrade the skills and know-how of our engineers.
“For us to achieve our mandate and make worthwhile changes to engineering in Botswana, we have to be totally focused and act with intent” said Kandima.
Furthermore, Stephen Williams, past president of the BIE from 1986-1988 told the engineers that the BIE provides a fertile environment where they can meet, share ideas and grow professionally.
“The BIE is also a nesting place for graduate engineers to learn from their peers and seniors, it also cater for engineering technicians and technologists and so nobody in the technology field is left out” he said.
He further indicated that Botswana Government provides a conductive environment for growth of engineering professionals.
“It must be stated that the Botswana Government recognises the existence of BIE and it can further be stated that the government enables ERB to carry out its mandate as a regulator of engineering professionals” said Williams
He plead with engineering companies to recognize and support BIE as it is the only source of engineering personnel’s for various Industries .
Furthermore, when giving his farewell speech, Michael Pinard , a past president of the institution said how they are viewed as engineers by the general public might be due to some lack of appreciation as to exactly what role they play in the development of the country.
“The BIE slogan is aptly coined-Engineers make it happen, in other words, what man dreams engineers create” Said Pinard.