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Motswana woman develops online system for farmers

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AgriBusiness Forum Botswana has launched an online system that assists farmers and agribusinesses to access early warning information, market updates and prices to improve farm production as well as grow the industry.

Through the system, farmers can also access production information, trading platform, industry directory and more. Known as Agricultural Marketing and Early Warning Information (AMEWI), the system includes an online portal, mobile application, SMS service, USSD service and a call centre.

Launching the system, Agribusiness Forum Botswana Managing Director, Thato Supang said there is a need for relevant information if we are to improve the agricultural sector. “Being a farmer I realised that there was a gap in terms of accessing relevant information so this system will help close the gap,” said Supang.

Researches, she said, have proven that farmer’s production can be saved and better management practices applied if relevant information, such as weather updates including frost, droughts, extreme temperatures and more, is communicated in real time.

The system is part of a research project funded by the European Union (EU) through the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA).

“Our partnership with CCARDESA gives the opportunity of rolling out the AMEWI model to the rest of the SADC region if positive results are achieved here, and currently the project is being started in Swaziland,” said Supang.

Speaking to Business Trends, Young Farmers Association Chairman, Thebeyame Molefe said the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools would help develop farming as the world has entered the digital age.

“As young farmers we really need to use ICT in our businesses because that will be the quick way of accessing information and this new system will help us prepare for the upcoming weather problems and also create an advertising platform for us,” said Molefe.

AgriBusiness Forum Botswana is a company wholly-owned and managed by a young Motswana woman that exists to explore, adapt, capitalise and share innovative technologies that will develop and grow the agribusiness industry in Botswana, and link the country to other African countries and the rest of the world.

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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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