Botswana and Lesotho have solidified their long standing working relations through an agreement to work together in agriculture. Speaking at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding this week, Lesotho Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Simone Litsoane said it is because of such collaborations that countries could achieve their goals.
The partnership will see the two countries working together in areas among others animal health and production and plant health and production. These are the two ministries responsible for the food security of their respective countries and the partnership is seen as essential to improving food security.
Through this MoU there will be increased surveillance for animal diseases and information sharing between the two countries. There will also be capacity building on food standards and meat inspection and quality assurance as well as livestock improvement through artificial insemination. Litsoane said this partnership is line with the Maputo Declaration which compels countries to increase investment on agriculture sector. The minister who pleaded his full support for this partnership said due to the similarities in both the socio-economical and climatic conditions of the two countries it will be easy for them to work together.
Meanwhile, Christiaan de Graaff concurred with his counterpart as he said the two countries have a lot to learn from each other. “We know what we are here for signing the MoU but we can also learn a lot from each other in a lot of other areas,” he said. He spoke highly of the Botswana Meat Commission which he said is a big success story of Botswana. He is of the view that Lesotho can learn much from Botswana, the country which happens to be one of the few that is able to sell beef to the European market from the open grazing area. The EU market is one of the markets that require stringent measures for countries to sell to them and Botswana is still selling there. According to De Graaff this is a sign that the country continues to do well and it is an area which Lesotho can capitalise on.
De Graaff also shared on the benefits of the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) saying it is set to improve food security. He said ever since the introduction of ISPAAD in Botswana the country has seen an increase in food production. He explained that this is because different farmers are helped at their level to produce more food.
While in Botswana, the Lesotho delegation which was made of Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security officials and the private sector visited BMC and the Botswana Institute of Vaccine (BVI). The officials have shown great interest in the way BMC operates and they intend to establish a similar facility in their country. “We visited BMC and we found that it is a centre of attraction and we plan to establish a similar meat commission in Lesotho,” said Litsoane. The Lesotho delegation is happy with the way Botswana is doing things and is eager to learn more from this country. According to Litsoane it is partnerships like this that also pave way for the private sector to lend a hand in improving the food security.