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China support Botwana's agriculture

China has pledged to continue offering technical support to Botswana in the agricultural sector, an initiative that would drive the country towards food security.

China Ambassador to Botswana, H.E. Mr. Liu Huanxing said Chinese initiative would benefit commercial irrigation farmers. In 2009 three Chinese experts were attached to Botswana’s agricultural ministry to work with agricultural field officers and transfer skills. They also imparted their knowledge of the latest technology in agriculture that could help increase production and efficiency. “Food security is a concern for all of us. Agriculture is the only way out,” explained Ambassador Liu, adding that his country- the world second biggest economy with a population of 1.3 billion people-is currently looking into the possibility of seconding their agricultural officials to continue their skills transfer. In his view, the most cost effective way to help Botswana is training locals and seconding experts to Botswana to work on some of the best methods in the agricultural sector. Speaking during the donation of two air-conditioners and a P500,000 jeep Cherokee to agricultural ministry, Ambassador Liu said Botswana haspotential to become a leader in agricultural produce given its conducive socio-economic and climatic conditions but issues such as lack of expertise in areas such as agriculture can be a threat. “Botswana has good soils and adequate water especially in the north which need to be utilised”, Liu told the Midweek Sun. Liu said 2011 would be exciting year for the two countries as they have a number of plans that are currently under discussion at senior levels.

Accepting donations, Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Oreeditse Molebatsi said Chinese generosity would go a long way in cementing the socio-economic relations between the two countries that dates back to 1975. Botswana imports most of its food from South Africa. Meanwhile, Liu indicted that Botswana also stands to benefit from different measures that China pledged to offer Africa at 2009 forum on china-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). He said China has considered assisting Botswana on areas of solar energy and biogas to benefit the country, as energy is vital to every economy. He said at least two Chinese companies have set up to produce and sell vegetables in Botswana.

(The Midweek Sun, Wednesday 12January  2011)

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