Local farmers have been urged to take advantage of new technologies to increase food production in the country. President Ian Khama said when officially opening this year’s National Agriculture Show in Gaborone on Thursday. Khama said the use of modern technologies will help farmers to immensely contribute towards agriculture development and economic growth. Khama said most of the food deficit that the country has had in all the past financial years has been met through importation from other countries. He said it is for this reason that they renamed the Ministry to Agricultural Development and Food Security. “As you may recall, in September 2016, government renamed this Ministry to the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security. The emphasis on development and food security is that as a nation we must increase food production locally and reduce the import bill,” he said. The president said the theme of the show resonates well with the country’s Vision 2036 aspiration on sustainable and economic development which commits to technology driven and commercially viable agricultural sector. He said agriculture is one of the sectors that have been identified as a driver of economic diversification. Khama, therefore, called on farmers to resort to using mordent technology to improve food production. Particular mention went to dairy farmers with Khama saying the country’s annual need of milk is 65 million litres but only around 6 million litres were produced locally during the 2016/2017 financial year.
He, however, acknowledged farmers’ efforts. “It is worth noting that despite challenges such as cyclones and disease outbreaks, farmers have shown dedication towards the production of quality products. I, therefore, take this opportunity to encourage all farmers to continue doing a good job of contributing to food security, economic growth and employment creation. Agriculture minister Patrick Ralotsia said as the agriculture sector is a source of livelihood for the majority of Batswana government continues to put more emphasis on its development. “We have for instance intensified the use of grey water for irrigation as well as promoting smart climate agriculture for both crop and livestock,” he said. Some of the farmers, who attended the show, have applauded government. The farmers said the national agricultural show provide for them an opportunity to interact with others and share experiences and ideas on how best to do farming.