Find Agriculture expertise in Botswana
Agriculture together with forestry and fisheries contributed only 2% of Botswana’s GDP (2010). The contribution of agriculture to the economy has radically reduced since the country’s independence. The sector primarily produces for domestic consumption, rather than for export, although it is not sufficient to meet domestic need. Rather, the country imports most of its food, mainly from South Africa. The majority of people in the largely rural nation are involved in agriculture to some degree, around 80%, yet only around 15% are formally employed in the industry. Although agricultural land accounts for 46.6% of total land area (2009), the landscape of the country dictates and limits its potential agricultural output. Much of the land is dry and drought-prone, with a large proportion of the country covered by the Kalahari Desert.
Sorghum and maize are the main subsistence crops here, alongside millet, groundnuts, beans and sunflower seeds. Farms are small, 2.3 hectares on average, and farmers struggle with the conditions even when there is rain. Non-intensive cattle raising also takes place in the drier areas. The wetter eastern areas of the country produce the primary crops of corn and wheat. A large proportion of agriculture’s share of GDP comes from livestock, primarily beef, which generated US$34m in 2010. The country is a major exporter of the meat, mainly to the European Union. The Ministry of Agriculture, with its main offices in the capital, Gaborone, is responsible for agriculture.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2012-13) ranked Botswana 20th in the world (out of 144 countries) in terms of its balanced agricultural policy costs, with a value of 4.6 out of 7, above the world average of 3.9. It was the third highest ranking sub-Saharan nation after Rwanda (2nd) and The Gambia (10th).
In 2002 the government initiated efforts to develop sectors of agriculture aside from beef production, and launched the National Agricultural Master Plan for Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development. One of its main objectives is to promote irrigation. Additionally, a horticultural research unit has been established. Farmers are also being assisted in expanding vegetable production, particularly in the east of the country with its more favourable conditions. Production training farms are being set up in different regions, to train farmers in new technologies and management practices. These are primarily related to rain-fed agriculture, horticulture and dairy farming. There are also efforts being put into the development of agricultural infrastructure. Other agricultural research has been devoted to soil conservation, grazing experiments and developing and distributing improved strains of grain.