Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Mr Molebatsi Molebatsi says government through ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security should expedite addressing issue of getting electricity at production areas.
Speaking during a tour of Kwenantle Farmers at Talana Farms, assistant minister Mr Molebatsi said getting electricity in Botswana had been cited as one of the factors that inhibited doing business in Botswana as per the World Bank report of 2020.
The report, according to Mr Molebatsi, ranked Botswana on position 96 of the 190 countries assessed.
Mr Molebatsi was responding to a call from one of the three Kwenantle Farmers shareholder, Ms Lembie Mmereki who informed the assistant minister that amongst some of their nagging challenges was exorbitant electricity charges.
Ms Mmereki had indicated that even when their machines lied idle they continued to be charged very steep usage charges. She called on legislators to devise means of lowering the charges to facilitate farmers to produce food to feed the nation and even export.
“With the current billing we believe it is very unsustainable for us as a business,” said Ms Mmereki.
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To that, the assistant minister conceded that electricity in production areas was costly and therefore bred challenges to the farmers. He suggested that tapping on solar energy could ameliorate the situation.
The assistant minister said his tours of production areas were necessitated by the challenge facing his ministry to facilitate businesses that would ensure food security, employment of Batswana amongst other things.
“Why should we be net importers of food?” Mr Molebatsi asked rhetorically, adding, ‘It should not happen.’
Mr Molebatsi said Batswana farmers should produce food in abundance and that they could export to other countries in case of surplus.
He said that he believed that Kwenantle Farmers had their sights beyond local market.
He described the farmers as a true embodiment of commercial farming that government called on Batswana to uptake.
Exporting outside, he said would be necessitated by various instruments as free trade agreements and SADC industrialisation policy inter alia.
“We’re committed to supporting sustainable businesses,” said Mr Molebatsi
For her part, Ms Mmereki who had reported high electricity costs showed that the farm had plenty of water for production nonetheless.
However, she believed that owing to high billing of power, many Batswana farmers may be discouraged from farming because of the expensive basic necessities.
Currently, the farmers are carrying out research and development on the best crop to cultivate at their Thune farm where they will be irrigating with water from Water Utilities Corporation.
Various crops are trialed to determine the best for the amount of water that would be used.
Source: Daily News Botswana