Botswana seeks to host agricultural centre

Botswana seeks to host agricultural centre

08 March 2010

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Botswana —   Botswana and Australia have discussed the possibility of establishing an agricultural research centre in Botswana for the Southern African region.

The President, Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama disclosed this in an interview on Friday following his four-day state visit to Australia.

He, among others, met Dr Nick Austin, CEO of the Australian Centre for International Research (ACIAR).

ACIAR has been supporting the agricultural research projects, which assist the disadvantaged and emerging farmers in southern Africa since 1983.

President Khama said research could, through modern technology, help improve food security in Botswana. He said the research centre could help the agricultural sector which has been performing badly. Such a centre, the President said, would augment government initiatives such as ISPAAD to enhance food security. He said although initiatives were in place to revive the agricultural sector, there were inconsistencies in harvest due to changes in weather conditions.

He said the Australian weather conditions were almost similar to Botswana hence their technology was likely to benefit Botswanas agricultural sector. He said the research centre would help the country review and refine its farming practices.

He further said the ACIAR was currently assisting small cattle producers in Botswana to increase weaner production.

The weaner route will be more productive for the farmers.

On other issues, the President revealed that the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has agreed that Botswana could send its sport person to camp there in preparation for major international competitions.

He said although Botswanas sport persons could do well in sport, they still lacked technical abilities to excel.

President Khama said it was important to discover the potential of a sport person at an early age.

He said Australia was one of the greatest sporting nations in the world. AIS has the aquatic testing, training and research swimming pool used, to amongst others, study forces and their effects on and within the human body. About the New South Wales (NSW) Fire services that assist Botswana in fire management, President Khama said about 900 people in Botswana have been trained by Australia on fire management. He said uncontrollable fires could have a negative impact on the environment.

The President further said that Botswanas status as a middle income country should be rewarded through the provision of aid instead of punishing the country by denying it aid.

Botswana does not qualify to receive aid from some parts of the world due to its status as a middle income country.

He said countries like Australia have shown their willingness to develop human resource capacity in Botswana that would in turn greatly help in the development of the country. The President said Botswana was determined to utilize the assistance from Australia within time and budget. He said the Australians were also free to assess whether their assistance to Botswana was used for the intended purpose.

Australia, has amongst others, signed a two-year $500 000 extension of support to Botswana in bushfire management and a two-year $250 000 extension of support in plant bio security and quarantine.

President Khama said the Australia government has shown that it wanted to interact with Africa.

He said an example of that was Australias agreement with Botswana to consider further opportunities to assist the people of Zimbabwe.

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