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VCF hosts farming conference

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Value Chain Farming (VCF) Africa-Botswana which runs VCF, a market driven contract farming initiative that seeks to support the commercialisation of small scale farmers, will host a three-day conference from February 1 to 3 at Ave Marie Conference Centre. The initiative focuses on provision of skills, advanced agricultural technology, financing frameworks and infrastructure development. Managing Director Tshepiso Ntshobotho says the inaugural conference will provide information on emerging external trends and current issues that impact the future of the agriculture industry.

VCF Africa – Botswana is an Agribusiness Consortium of two Italian companies, BEXA Consulting, Private Department of Agriculture Food Energy and Environmental Studies (DAFEES) and Longreach International (Pty) Ltd (Botswana). Professor Allesandra Arioli of DAFEES and Stefano Baldi Netafim of BEXA have confirmed that they will be speaking at the conference. Organisers believe that there is an abundant and diverse range of opportunities from production of crops, livestock as well as mechanisation waiting to be exploited. They say it is therefore essential to create the conditions for private entrepreneurs, including small farmers, to create successful businesses and gain easier access to finance and the markets.

The conference is also expected to provide an opportunity for players in the agriculture and food-processing sector to strengthen cooperation and forge new partnerships. It will also provide a unique business platform for industry leaders, policy makers, governments and other important stakeholders for collaboration on the huge potential for growth, development and business. Conference content will vary from: plenary sessions focusing on farming to farm inputs, mechanisation and extension services, site tours and showcases of agri-business products and services.

Participants will include, industry leaders, decision makers and important stakeholders from across the entire spectrum of agriculture and related sectors. VCF Africa-Botswana focuses on creating, modeling and promoting investment projects for the African agriculture industry, through partnerships with other investing or consulting partners.

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SMEs benefit from Consumer Fair growth

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The Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) has applauded Botswana Consumer Fair’s continued efforts to improve small to medium enterprises’ linkages.

BITC Chief Executive Officer, Keletsositse Olebile, when opening the fair, said the event has provided interactive forum for both local and foreign exhibitors. He said the shopping show has enabled manufacturers, wholesalers and traders to market their products directly to consumers, an alignment to government’s endeavors.

“As part of government intention, we continually encourage local sourcing by retailers and distributors,” said Olebile who is just few months into his new post. He further celebrated the growth of Botswana Consumer Fair over the years, attributing the expansion to quality of goods displayed at the previous shows.“Improved quality and increased variety of wares increases the interest of the visitors and makes them look forward to returning the following year,” said Olebile.

This year’s exhibitors at the 13th event still running under the banner: ‘It is more than just shopping’ have been drawn from Lesotho, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Japan, India, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Consumer Fair is a flagship event for Fairgrounds Holdings and provides a platform for small medium enterprises (SMEs) from the different sectors of the economy to showcase and promote their products and services. In addition, the SMEs are expected to establish long term business linkages and promote local manufactured goods.Fairgrounds Holdings is already optimistic that the Fair immensely contribute to the socio-economic development of the country through supporting SMEs.

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‘Involve SMMEs in standards development’-Minister

Keikantse Lesemela

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Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo appealed to Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) to include the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) when developing the standards to improve the sector.

She said the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry has identified three areas of focus going forward which are modeled on SMME development, investment promotion and export development apexes. “I would like to implore you to include this sector in standards development processes and assist in improving SMMEs conformity to standards and compliance to technical regulations,” said Kenewendo.

Speaking during the BOBS Technical Committee Members appreciation ceremony on Thursday, Kenewendo explained that the important roles of standards are underpinned by the aspirations and intentions espoused in both diversified export led economic growth and job creation as priority areas. “It goes without saying that the diversification of the economy requires a National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework that promote competitiveness of Botswana goods and services.”

She also emphasized that an effective National Quality Infrastructure and Technical Regulatory Framework are essential as they provide crucial links to global trade, market access and export competitiveness through their contribution to consumer confidence in product safety, quality and the environment.Since inception in 1997 BOBS has published more than 1700 standards through 48 technical committees across several sectors of the economy; 109 certification licences have been issued against some of these standards. Currently 46 Botswana Standards are being implemented through the standards regulations with a view to protecting the health and safety of consumers as well as protection of the environment.

On her note, BOBS Vice Chairperson of the Standards Council, Professor Edward Dintwa said standards are powerful tools for helping organisations that implement them to realize their potential, have access and compete in the global marketplace. “In this highly competitive and complex world, issues of sustainability and productivity, viewed from economic, environmental and societal perspectives require that businesses must be more efficient in their operations, which can be achieved through the implementation of standards”.

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