Member of Parliament for Serowe South Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi says Botswana should seize the moment and use the proposed Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUANR)to expand its export opportunities.
According to Moitoi, who is the former Minister of Education and Skills Development, said the country has been in the past modest in tapping into the few opportunities that its success stories especially in the area of Agriculture had afforded her , an occurrence which she says denied the country to benefit economically. She cited the Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine laboratory, which she said the country has performed exceptionally well at. “Countries as far as Ghana have shown interest in our product, and imported vaccines in large quantities,” said Moitoi.
But in order for BUANR to be a viable project, the Serowe South legislator advised that government should pump in sufficient funds that will facilitate further research to be used as reference in developing the Agricultural sector. Research according to the Minister is very crucial and will contribute immensely in making the institution relevant. Parliament on Monday passed the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), bill which transforms the Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) into a fully-fledged university.
Other members who took to the floor to debate the bill, said research is very crucial in the growth of the Agricultural sector and the University should be used as a vehicle that will propel the sector’s revival. Selebi Phikwe West MP Dithapelo Keorapetse , was of the view that government need to provide attractive packages in order to lure quality personnel to the university. This he says was important as dedicated academics were likely to produce research that everybody is calling for. According to Keorapetse government had to seriously consider the extent to which research is funded. Keorapetse proposed a research-funding model similar to how resources are allocated for learning and teaching purposes.
Other members were of the view that the establishment of such a university was long overdue considering the fact that Agriculture used to be the country’s highest contributor to the GDP before the discovery of diamonds and other minerals. The transformation of BCA was announced late last year and will see the new institution re-named the University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The new university will operate as an independent entity as it was initially an associate institute of the University of Botswana. The new university will have its own governing and operational structures such as the senate, chancellor and vice chancellor as well as academic and support staff. It would further have its own academic seal and qualifications.