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Farming is a lucrative business

Keletso Thobega



ENTERPRISING PEARL: Young farmer Pearl Ranna says farming could give the youth loads of money

More women and youth are need to develop interest in farming as a form of socio-economic upliftment. This was said by a passionate youthful farmer Pearl Ranna, who has made a name for herself by making farming “cool.”

In a recent interview with The Midweek Sun, Ranna noted that Botswana is one of the countries that promote gender equality in farming but land rights, gender roles and poor access to finance, still hinder some women from playing an active role in this sector. “We need to break the stereotypes that farming is a male dominated industry or that farming is for the boy child. Women have shown growth and leadership in farming, however we still face socio-economic discrimination which hinders our progress.”

As a young person herself, Ranna has noted some challenges that her contemporaries face in this sector and she noted that Botswana still had a long way to go in terms of providing youth based incentives and effective policies that could create a more conducive business environment for youth to venture into or grow the agricultural farming sector.

“I have youth who still reach out to me for advice on getting land; even acquiring a one or two hectare piece of land is difficult for a young Motswana, which is disappointing. In other cases, upon getting land, access to gain infrastructural development assistance from the existing LIMID program for developing ground water has set its pre-requisites too high for any young person to even be eligible to apply for and comply with.” She added that access to finance remains the number one barrier for women and youth in farming.

“The existing Youth Development Fund needs to be revised to suit the current investment climate needed for young people in farming. I believe it limits innovation, sustainability and overall feasibility of the businesses that receive funding due to its poor framework and stringent requirements. This is why we have YDF failure rates of 80-90% of government funded projects to date.” Farming appears lucrative but many young people are not willing to put in the hard work, she says, adding that they are not patient enough to wait to reap the rewards.

“I believe that farming is about experimental learning. You can never learn about something if you just read about it; you need to follow through with action. That is one of the lessons I learnt as a small-time stock and poultry farmer. Being able to work and not solely rely on farm workers means being able to maintain and sustain yourself. Passion, Patience and Perseverance are key because farming is no child’s play – it requires a lot of sacrifice, sweat and tears… there is no overnight success.”

Ranna developed interest in farming at secondary school when she used to assist her mother with record keeping, sales and marketing of her commercial piggery agribusiness. “I would accompany my parents to the farm every weekend and later went to study hydrophonics and vegetable production in South Africa.”

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The MidweekSun Admin



University of Botswana students are bracing themselves for the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. Contenders are fighting tooth and nail to appease the electorate. Three camps are in contention to fill the 13 council positions.

Umbrella for Democratic Change’s (UDC) Moono-wa-Baithuti has the onerous task of defending all the 13 seats which they hauled at the last elections of 2018. “As Moono wa Baithuti, we have lots of achievements. We are on the verge of getting the student bar open, so we need to go back and fix what we started,” said UDC’s Tumelo Legase who is vying for the position of Vice President.

He said they have advocated for student empowerment policies and are also proposing a third arm of student representation. “We have the SRC and the Judiciary, what we need is the student Parliament so that we have a large number of leaders who can independently attend to problems across the university.” The dark horse in this race is the University of Botswana’s Alliance for Progressive (AP) which will take another leap of faith despite their loss in the previous election.

They are rejuvenated and redefined. Candidate for Vice President Karabo Bokwe said central to their mandate is making the welfare of the student community a priority. “We want to help eradicate school policies that border on oppression, and through new polices call for initiatives that come with enterprenuership benefits to students.”

AP candidate for Information and Publicity, a first year Criminal Justice student Gracious Selelo said they are more united than other parties even at national level. “We don’t have internal squabbles within our party, we are more focused and can deliver our mandate easily,” she noted.

However the ruling party’s BDP GS-26 will come with all guns blazing after an embarrassing defeat in the previous elections. Preparations have been made and the GS-26 is looking to take the elections by storm.

According to their Presidential Candidate Boniface Seane, they come with the message of hope that addresses the current status quo at the University.“The university is not functioning so we drew three policies that embrace inclusiveness. We want to lead collectively with the students, through the student body meetings which the previous SRCs have failed to do. “We will consult with the students with no discrimination.”

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Healthcare system to improve



The Health ministry has developed a seven-point programme to guide the country in improving the healthcare system, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Alfred Rabashemi Madigele.

“The seven priority areas will serve as a roadmap and a guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us,” said Madigele at Masa Square Hotel on Tuesday.

The focal areas include decentralisation; Universal Health Coverage, Tertiary Care, Strategic leveraging on the Private sector; Supply Chain; Research as well as Staff welfare and accountability.
Point-one of the seven priority areas according to Dr Madigele is about empowering the District Health Management Teams (DHMTs) and transforming them into fully fledged Regional Health Authorities.

“In this case, they will be rationalised from 27 to 18 and have the authority to hire A and B Scales, promote up to C1 and manage micro procurement,” he said. Point two is about improving the quality of healthcare services. “The main causes of mortality and their risk factors in Botswana are Primary Health Care issues,” Dr Madigele said.

He added that “Our efforts for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage should thus focus on: Prevention; Comprehensive screening; Early treatment; and Surveillance at the community.”
This he said, would require revamped grassroots efforts in which adequate numbers of community health workers through partnerships with the non-governmental sector will be deployed as necessary.

According to Dr Madigele, the top five causes of death in Botswana in 2017 were HIV/AIDS, Ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections and Diabetes. He said compared to 2007, NCDs among these had increased in burden by an average of 34%. The top five risk factors related to these causes of mortality were unsafe sex; poor diet; high blood pressure; alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Improving the quality of care, Madigele said will also include the safety and security of patients; attitudes of staff as experienced by patients; time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication and the availability of drugs.

Meanwhile, the health minister revealed that the commissioning of Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) is ongoing with the facility scheduled for opening on April 24th. “This will be a phased approach commencing with some services including paediatric oncology, internal medicine, rheumatology and endocrinology, diagnostic radiology, laboratory services and pharmacy”.

A phased commissioning of SKMTH will reduce overdependence on South Africa for referrals, reduce costs and also institutionalise provision of super specialist services within Botswana.

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