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FNB Botswana engages with farmers

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First National Bank Botswana is committed to growing the agricultural sector in Botswana, in recognition of its substantial contribution towards Botswana’s Gross Domestic Product.

Hosting a cocktail for farmers at Pada Rest Camp on Friday in Pandamatenga, the Bank shared on how much it values strengthening relationships with those in the agricultural community. This engagement served as a precursor to the Chobe Agricultural Show scheduled for 28 -30 July 2016.

The annual Show provides an opportunity for farmers in the Chobe District and neighbouring areas to exhibit their products, to network and learn from each other.

Most importantly it is a time set aside once a year to bring the community together in reflection of all that the Chobe District has achieved. On the back of the Bank’s annual participation at the show, the cocktail served to gain insight into the trade and environmental issues which farmers face.“The Agriculture sector plays an important role in the growth of the Botswana economy through food security and employment.

Therefore, it requires financiers, entrepreneurs, researchers, policy makers and indeed the entire community to join hands and combat the challenges that face our farmers. The farmer of today needs more than just rain and sunshine. Farmers need skills, access to information, access to land, and access to finance, in order to penetrate the market,” said FNB Business Director, Ogone Madisa-Kgwarae.

FNB continues to embrace every opportunity to be the farmer’s reliable financial partner in the farming business. For that reason, the Bank has created innovative solutions to cater for the needs of individual farmers. These include the Agriculture loan, which caters for one’s annual production input costs and capital expenditure; livestock or seeds costs and farm property improvements.

FNBB also provides additional benefits through platforms that allow customers access to banking 24/7, these including: online banking, cellphone banking, eWallet bulk send, ATM Advance and Slimline ATMs.

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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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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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