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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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OLOPENG HEAPS PRAISE ON BSE FINANCE CHALLENGE

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Minister Thapelo Olopeng

Botswana Stock Exchange’s annual finance and investment competition for secondary school students has been applauded by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Thapelo Olopeng.

The initiative, a capital market awareness tool that has been running for the past seven years, is increasing financial literacy and a culture of investment among young people. The initiative will see the country raise future billionaires through the stock markets. “It is a breath of fresh air to have tertiary students who are financially literate, who can manage their finances,” said the minister.

He urged students to invest even the smallest allowances they earn and have a hassle-free life after university. “Investing on the stock exchange is not only preserved for the rich, but for anyone with a bank account,” said Olopeng.

The minister said the secondary schools finance and investment competition is participation of the private sector in bridging the knowledge divide.Olopeng said the private sector participation augments his ministry’s efforts of providing and building knowledge and innovation through the development and implementation of the policy on tertiary education, research, science and technology to transform the economy from a resource based to a knowledge based.

“In this connection, we will continue to empower our students in order for them to lead better and successful lives which can propel them into the innovation ecosystem,” said Olopeng. BSE Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole said the Senior Secondary Schools Finance and Investment Competition, first established in 2013 aims to sensitise and educate the student community about capital markets, with the strategic aim to increase financial literacy and promote a culture of investing at a young age.

The competition is open to all senior secondary schools across the country, including private and public senior secondary schools.

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WE ARE NOT USING DIAMONDS TO KILL ELEPHANTS, THAT’S HOGWASH! – BOTSWANA MINISTER

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Orapa Mine, part of Debswana

Botswana is not using diamonds to kill elephants as alleged by some conservationists after the southern African country announced plans to lift a ban on elephant hunting to address growing conflict between humans and wildlife, a government official has said.

Minister of mineral resources, Green technology and energy security Eric Molale told a mining conference in Gaborone on Monday that the activists were tarnishing the image of Botswana. “That’s hogwash because we as Botswana are [good] conservationists and it is us who worked hard to make sure these elephants [are] brought to the numbers that we do have now,” he said.

“When conflicts arise, it is through consultation, [that we] find out how we can best manage our resources. The people have spoken and we are going to be managing the elephants in the best way that we can.

“We are not culling, we have re-introduced the trophy hunting and if you take 400 elephants per annum for trophy hunting against the 3-5% annual growth rate of the elephant herd that we have…[we are] just barely scratching on the surface.”

Botswana has about 130 000 elephants, the world’s largest population.Molale said Botswana will remain focused on things that are beneficial to the country and will not be distracted by issues spread by people that are not even privy to how things are done in the country.

“We have, however, invited them to come and learn more about what we are doing so they can better understand those important aspects of flora and fauna…”The conflict between humans and elephants had gone up since the ban was introduced in 2014.

Tourism is the second source of foreign income in Botswana after diamonds and conservationists fear that the former will be affected is the government cull elephant.
[Rough and Polished]

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