One of the major aspects which the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional Agricultural Policy is expected to address in the medium to long-term is access to markets within the region.
This was said by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Agricultural Development and Food Security, Jimmy Opelo this week during the launch of the European Union (EU) funded SADC-FAO project.
The project’s main focus is to provide support towards the operationalization of the SADC regional agricultural policy.
This is in addition to creating sustainable agricultural growth and socio-economic development due to enhanced production, competitiveness and improved regional and international trade.
“One of the things that sometimes we become oblivious to is that, once production and all other things have been done, is what’s next and it is the market and we need to also have the same information as far as sharing the markets concerned,” said the P.S.
Opelo says Botswana has ambitions of digitalizing its economy and as such information communication technology is considered an enabler in this process.
“It is against this backdrop that this project is in line with Botswana’s ambitions of enhancing information on agricultural production,” the P.S said, adding the project seeks to implement an effective agricultural information management system to guide policy makers and all other players to take appropriate decisions.
The project will allow timely collection, analysis and communication of information on any warnings of disaster and risks and monitoring of vulnerability and food security in the region.
“All of it I aimed at ensuring that we keep to our promise of sustainable agriculture and improved food security,” Opelo said.
Opelo revealed there is also a provision which states that there is some form of financial assistance which comes along with this project.
According to the P.S, the agricultural sector contributes between 4 percent and 27 percent of GDP across the SADC member states.
“The SADC region is rich in livestock and crop resources, but unfortunately with animals’ diseases and crop pests it is necessary that as a regional bloc we are in this together.”
Dr Rene Czudek, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Botswana says the policy was crafted to develop and advance agriculture in the SADC region.
“The policy was approved in June 2013 by the SADC council of ministers,” stated Czudek, further adding that the implementation of the policy should be supported by the SDAC Regional Agricultural Investment Plan of 2017-2022 that developed under the technical assistance of FAO.