Core economic issues in the horticulture sector of Botswana
Poverty and unemployment in Botswana are the major problems that the government is focusing its effort and attention on. The overall government aim is to eradicate poverty and diversify the economy away from diamond mining to create sustainable jobs. Agriculture is traditionally thought to be a primary sector that can help the country’s disadvantaged community to escape from poverty and problems of unemployment. However, Botswana has experienced falling agricultural productivity and a fall in its GDP share from 40 per cent in 1966 at independence from Britain to 2.1 per cent 2001. This article demonstrates that although overall performance in the agricultural sector of Botswana has been falling and remains generally very low, in the sub-sector of horticultural production, production has doubled in the last decade and productivity has improved. This has led to improved achievement towards food self sufficiency at the national level in terms of availability of food from the nation’s producers. However, this article argues that such improved productivity in horticulture only benefits a few rich companies and individuals who have the capacity to invest in the very high capital investment required in this sector and in the necessary transport (including refrigerated transport) that is needed to move horticultural goods from one place to the other. One of the major issues raised in this study is that the agricultural policy excludes the horticultural sector from its major priorities. Hence, most activities in the sector are influenced by geographical location and transport or logistics concerns, the market structure, and well intended government interventions that are sometimes used to crowd out the small-scale farmers and stakeholders. Government is also encouraged to re-look at the opportunities for marketing horticulture and take an active lead to create structures that can promote creation of sustainable jobs and participation of small-scale producers in this sector.
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