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Calls to improve crop yields with technology

Keikantse Lesemela

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Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.

Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.

Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.

She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.

Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.

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Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft

The MidweekSun Admin

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Botswana Railways CEO, Louis Makwinja

Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.

Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.

There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”

The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”

During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.

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Trading for bonds slows

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BBMA Secreatary General, Kopano Bolokwe

Botswana Stock Exchange latest market performance report has reported a slow down in the country bond market trading activities.

The bourse’s first half trade of bonds slopped despite increase in the market capitalisation of listed bonds. “The value of bonds traded during the year-to-date period was P523.8 million compared to P755.7 million traded during the same period in 2018,” said the report. However, on the back of government bonds’ re-openings and new corporate issuances, the market capitalisation of listed bonds increased to P15.8 billion compared to P14.6 billion as at the same period in 2018.The report further highlights that the BSE registered two bond listings in the first half of 2019, being the RDCP001 for P47.35 million, and CGL001 for P128.51 million.

Last month, the Botswana Bond Market Association hosted Bond Market Conference under the theme ‘Strengthening the Bond Market to Support the Fiscus and Private Sector Development’ to reflect on the status of the bond market, the progress in addressing impediments and to formulate reforms for further deepening of the bond market. Over 200 delegates attended with speakers from the Macro economic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and African Development Bank (AfDB).

On the same occasion, the BBMA officially launched the 5th Anniversary BBMA Publication titled “Understanding the Botswana Bond Market” detailing the history of the Botswana bond market, the achievements of the BBMA, peer comparisons with other bond markets, among other topics. The publication is in line with the BBMA’s strategy of 12 promoting skills development, information dissemination, and investor participation in the bond market.

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