Towards a fairer trade balance between SA and Botswana
Farmer's Weekly|May 07, 2021
In this article, Thomas Harvey, Absa’s head of AgriBusiness in Botswana, provides an overview of the agriculture sector in that country and explores the linkages between the agriculture sectors of Botswana and South Africa.
Thomas Harvey

South Africa and Botswana are dependent on each other to a greater or lesser extent in the supply and demand chains of their agriculture sectors. Botswana is a landlocked, semi-desert country that is not self-sufficient in food, and depends on imports, mainly from South Africa, to ensure its food security. South Africa, on the other hand, needs the Botswana market to ensure offtake for some of its exports.

Botswana’s commercial agriculture sector is still young and in a fast-developing phase, which means the country still has to develop its primary and secondary agriculture sectors. The Botswana government has identified agriculture as an area of strategic importance and as the sector with the best prospects for future development. The government is therefore seeking to attract private investment to grow the commercial farming sector and create employment opportunities for rural people.

BOTSWANA MUST INVEST IN INFRASTRUCTURE AND DIVERSIFY COMMODITY PRODUCTION TO ALTER THE TRADE IMBALANCE.

To this end, it has established a number of special economic zones, including the 50 000ha Pandamatenga dryland crop production area; beef and dairy in the Lobatse area, with the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) export abattoir based there; the Selebi Phikwe irrigation scheme, fed by the Letsibogo and Shashe dams and focusing on citrus and vegetable production; and the Zambezi Integrated Agro-Commercial Development Project in northern Botswana, which will be a huge, commercial-scale irrigation project on 20 000ha.

However, according to a report published by the US Department of Agriculture, the development of a modern cattle farming and slaughter industry in Botswana is limited by the government’s monopoly on meat processing plants, exports and livestock prices, as well as the occurrence of foot-and-mouth disease in the north-eastern part of the country.

BOTSWANA’S FARMING CHALLENGES

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