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VCF promises to transform Botswana agribusiness

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Over 200 members of the Value Chain Farming (VCF) Africa-Botswana are optimistic that if they work together they will ultimately be able to feed the nation and sell beyond borders. The farmers converged in a three-day Summer School and Conference theme, ‘Unlocking Agricultural Opportunities,’ that took place at Ave Maria Conference Centre and Botswana Univeristy of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) in Sebele, hosted in partnership with Botswana Insurance Company. Speaking at the event, Managing Director of Value Chain Farming Africa, Tshepiso Ntshobotho said the event is a bi-annual school that runs during summer and a second session in the winter session called Agribusiness Winter School and Conference.

She explained that the events are designed as crash classes in latest critical information on Agribusiness. “The conference is critical to my farmers, my partners and even for my environment. “We have focused on problems in Agriculture for far too long. What I have been craving for is solutions and new innovations to tackle these problems,” she said. VCF Africa is an Agribusiness Consortium of BEXA Consulting, Private Department of Food Energy and Enviromental Studies (DAFEES) both in Italy, Alieforg in Zimbabwe and Longreach International, which Ntshobotho co-owns. Ntshobotho, who has a Degree in Animal Health and Production, said her company is geared up for massive transformation of the Botswana Agribusiness industry.

“Our thrust is not only to close the import gap but have connected our farmers to the global market. The World Bank has said by 2050, 80 percent of the world’s food will be coming from Africa. We hold the world’s largest chunk of arable land. We have always been destined to take care of the world.” According to Ntshobotho, VCF is connected to the continent biggest Tilapia farmer and distributor, that is, Lake Harvest that operates according to the highest world standards. The organisation is also connected to the continent’s biggest fresh produce distributor, Rolex Imports and Exports with its core expertise in air and land freight of perishable produce. VCF has connections with Global Markets through their sole standing subsidiary, Nhimbe Imports and Exports.

“My company is part of a network of over 7 000 food exporters and importers. I am talking of our produce not only having access to local chains but also going as far as big food chains like TESCO. Our goals for Botswana include; to have 80 000 commercial Good Agriculture Practices certified farms over the next 10 years; 400 000 hectares of irrigated land; 486 345 direct job and 80 109 processing centres,” Ntshobotho said. Currently, VCF represent over 200 active members of the Value Chain Farming Africa-Botswana network. “We are processing their funding through a local bank,” Ntshobotho said. She is confident that her company will sustain member-farmers through five key pillars who have decided to commercialise and expand their market beyond Botswana. The key pillars are; access to finance, access to markets, access to information, access to water and access to contemporary efficient technology.

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Cell City rewards customers

Keikantse Lesemela

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Cell City gave away two Toyota Hilux pick up cars worth about P300 000 and three Hisense televion sets worth P15 000 each to their customers through their annual competition.

In partnership with Hisense and Orange Botswana, Cell City conducts annual competitions to reward their customers and contribute to citizen empowerment. Handing over the cars on Friday, Cell City Chief Executive Officer, Brian White said through the competition they want to satisfy their customers and give back to the community. “Cell City and Orange clients were given a chance to win either a Toyota Hilux pickup or a Hisense television set.

All they had to do was purchase any Hisense mobile phone from a Cell City or Orange retail outlet and fill in the competition form in the store,” said White.Thato Ntshabele, who won one of the cars told the Business Trends that she bought a Hisense cell phone worth P900. 00.

“I never expected that I can win a car. I was just filling the forms and dropped into the entry box and I forgot about it. I am so happy to receive this prize and I thank Cell City for this opportunity,” said Ntshabele. Another winner, Dimakatso Mmusi expressed his excitement saying he had always wanted a van and he is grateful to Cell City.

“I just bought a cell phone worth P899.00 at Cell City Railpark mall, I never expected anything, and I was just submitting the form as I was requested by the shop assistants. This car is very useful to me,” said Dimakatso.

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Smecha chillie hits the shelves

Keikantse Lesemela

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For the love of food and the passion to apply modern technology processes in food manufacturing locally, Kgalaletso Mothoagae established her own brand, Smecha specializing in relishes.

She processes and packages chillie in 325 gramms and 1 litre bottles selling at P50 and P150. She told the Business Trends that she decided to process chillies as it is one of the products that are rarely processed in the food industry.

She started cooking it for home consumption and later started selling to friends and currently the product has gone beyond borders at South African Spar shops and Restaurants. “I couldn’t look for any other vegetable as most of them have already been processed in the market. It is my first product of research in the food industry so I found out that I can do good business with this product. This chillie is free from preservatives but still has extended shelf life of 6 months,” said Mothoagae

The Kanye born young lady studied food technology and has the passion to explore the food processing market in Botswana and contribute to reduce the high food import bill. “I wanted to explore more about food and use my skills to contribute to the development of the local food processing and manufacturing industry. I also wanted to supplement my income at the same time,” said Mothoagae.

She has a degree in Food Technology. She says there is a lot of potential for business growth as there is a demand for the product locally and in South Africa. “My main customers are individuals in homes, they have embraced the product, and they love the taste. There is also a market that has been secured in SA; it is available in several shops like spars and some restaurants”. In future, Mothoagae said she would increase the product range to 10 using various vegetables and flavours.

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