The tussle between President Mokgweetsi Masisi and former President Ian Khama played itself in Serowe with some members of the Agricultural Show organising committee having sought that he be invited to attend the show and be allowed speak as the patron of the Agricultural Show and paramount chief of Bangwato.
On Thursday evening the organisers of the show were locked in a meeting with officials from the Office of the President who informed them that they cannot change the programme and that it was against the protocol for former president to speak after the State President.
One of the organisers of the show confirmed that indeed they wanted Former President Khama to attend the show as the paramount chief but couldn’t make it as he had travelled to Mashatu.
“He is our Kgosikgolo and we want him to address us as our patron and thank President Masisi for attending the show but we were told it is against the protocol,” he revealed.
Many political pundits had hinted that President Masisi might face a hostile Bangwato as they felt that Khama was being mistreated but the opposite happened as he was given a warm welcome.
As a way of ensuring that he wins Bangwato to his side, President Masisi who was accompanied by the First Lady Neo Masisi showered them with blankets which were given to all those who attended the show.
Addressing them, Masisi said the agricultural sector played an important role in the economy and that as of 2016 the Central District had a population of 750 000 cattle and over 520 000 goats thus making it the largest producer of cattle and goats in the country.
“To this end I am pleased to inform you that, the government has prioritised small stock production for economic development,” he said, adding that they have resuscitated the Lobu small stock farm in Kgalagadi District to improve small stock productivity and competitiveness.
Masisi revealed that a deliberate decision has been taken to establish another small stock multiplication and training facility in Setata in the Boteti Sub District.
“I, therefore, encourage farmers to use this facility to improve the quality of their livestock,” he encouraged farmers.
In order to improve the beef industry into a viable, competitive and profitable undertaking, Masisi said that government has conceived the cluster development initiative.
Masisi informed the farmers that government has undertaken to restructure and ultimately privatise Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) with a view of maximising its impact.
On arable farming, President Masisi said the sector continues to struggle due to results of climate change, human wildlife conflict and outbreak of pests such as army worms and quelea birds.
During the 2016/17 cropping season, almost 120 000 hectares was planted under ISPAAD in the Central District and over 40 000 tonnes were produced, said President Masisi.
“On the other hand, close to 71000 hectares of land was ploughed in the Central District during the 2017-18 cropping season,” he said, adding that it indicates a decline in production due mainly to erratic rainfall patterns.
The Central District contributed 60% of the country’s horticultural produce in 2017-18 making it the major producer in the country followed by Kgatleng and Gantsi Districts.
The district created 1773 jobs through horticultural projects.
Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) CEO, Thabo Thamane, said Agribusiness is the second portfolio investment at P860 million or 36.6%.
“The sluggish growth of the Agribusiness Sector is largely due to a number of challenges that our farmers have been facing in the recent years such as the frequent and abrupt closure of BMC , natural disasters and late payment by Government Agencies procuring from farmers” he said.
He said that in the financial year alone CEDA has funded 152 businesses at a value of P162 million and within the Central District they have invested P323.2 million on 422 agricultural projects.