35 Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) students arrived last week Friday from a one year attachment at Kinneret Academic College in Israel.
The programme exposes students to advanced technology in agriculture, research in the field as well as extension or practical work. Beaming with optimism, they exalted the virtues of agriculture in an interview with The Midweek Sun saying it can generate revenue for Botswana and reduce the food import bill if given the proper attention it deserves.
Olebogeng Matlhodi a student of BA Science in Food, Science and Technology plans to share the knowledge she gathered as well as produce something at national level. “Agriculture is advanced that side and people live good lives out of it. They take it very seriously and it is one of the top jobs one can go into.” She learnt about irrigation to produce food throughout the seasons and not depending on rain-fed agriculture as is the norm here.
Matlhodi, 23, was based in a carrot factory and learnt about taking care of carrots and packaging them. Jerry Sebowe who is pursuing BA Science in Agricultural Mechanisation worked in a tomato factory. He is adamant that Botswana will no longer import tomatoes if government can support them to practise what they learnt in Israel. “I was based at Berko Farm and the farm specialises in cucumber, basilica and tomato crops according to their seasons.
“I have learnt a lot about greenhouse, irrigation and tunnels use, which is what I want to share with local farmers and teach them about tomato care,” he said. Acting Vice Chancellor at BUAN Prof Shalaulani Nsoso said they want to ready their students through the programme to practice Commercial Agriculture. “Israel is an added advantage to our students because of the similar climatic conditions,” he said. The third group is expected to leave on Saturday for a similar programme. Transformation Coordinator at BUAN Dr Mataba Tapela is convinced that the advanced technology used in Israel will enable their students to strive to reach the same level in the field one day.
He noted that the students also got relevant information on dairy, high value crops, production, value addition, associated enterprises as well as marketing, which he believes would benefit the country at large. The university has 2 hectares of land within its premises and expect students to utilise the skills and knowledge that they got in Israel to produce crops.