Horticulture gets a boost

A group of 42 Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) Horticultural Incubator clients stationed at Glen Valley Horticulture incubators are expected to reduce the nation’s fresh produce import bill.

This was said by LEA Chief Executive Officer, Racious Moatshe at Glen Valley on Tuesday during the graduation ceremony of the 42 participants, who will join the farming community to produce food for the country.

He also awarded monetary prizes to 10 best performing farmers. The funds were donated to the programme by Stanbic Bank Botswana.

Giving his address, Moatshe said the incubation programme, which started in 2011 and has produced 150 graduates thus far, produces a pool of successful, sustainable and competitive economy players in the agricultural sector.

The competition, through which the best farmers were chosen, started in 2013 and is intended to help incubator trainees in their businesses.

Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Small Medium Enterprise (SME) Section, Onkabetse Morapedi said the bank’s contribution to the programme speaks to its commitment to help Batswana through corporate social responsibility exercises in the communities they do business in.

Morapedi also said the competition winners are equipped with relevant skills to make a difference in the country’s agricultural sector and are a representation of the bank’s values which are centered on helping the communities they serve.

It was revealed during the graduation that the trainees were coached on structure up-keep and maintenance, crop management technology, record keeping and essential tools in running an agricultural enterprise.

“We also conducted oral interviews with the trainees to track their comprehension of methods and techniques they learned during their training,” said Dr. Otsoseng Oagile, one of the judges who identified the winning cohort of farmers.

Oagile was speaking on the criteria used by the judges to determine the winners of the competition. He also made mention that of the ten winners; the lowest score was a pass mark of 52.7 with the highest mark being 81.8 percent.

A communiqué from LEA states that in 2013, “LEA identified the Glen Valley Horticulture Incubator clients as beneficiaries of the project as they produce food under controlled environments through mediums such as greenhouses, tunnels, and shade nets,” a practice, the Authority believes is key to the diversification of agricultural farming methods and ultimately improved food security.

“The Stanbic donation is a great investment in the Horticulture sector as it aims to promote economic diversification in Botswana.” The statement continues, stating that, it is through such investments that competent horticultural entrepreneurs will be developed and the nation’s horticultural import bill reduced.

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