Statement By Honourable Kgotla Kenneth AUTLWETSE Assistant Minister of Agriculture
Excellencies and distinguished delegates;
Ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great honour for me to address this 39th Session of the Governing Council on behalf of the Government of Botswana. At the outset, let me join others in expressing my delegation’s gratitude to the Government and the people of Italy and IFAD for their warm welcome.
Botswana, like most developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa is agricultural based, with majority of the people living in rural areas and are mainly dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Unlike in other developing countries, a large share of land is owned by the rural community (farmers) with an average of 5 hectares each.
My Government recognises that the rural people and communities should be the central focus for our national development and policy agenda. In this regard, we need to increase our support, especially for our smallholder farmers by creating an enabling environment through development of infrastructure and provision of other government services in the rural areas.
I, therefore, have no doubt that the agricultural sector in my country will remain an important source of food and at the same time provide income, employment and investment opportunities for the rural communities. In this regard, I find the theme: “Inclusive investment: Rural people, state and business in the post 2015 agenda” very relevant in shaping our developmental agenda, especially to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal – “to end poverty and hunger by 2030”. Development efforts must be made more inclusive if they are to reach poor and marginalised groups living in neglected rural areas.
Climate change continues to negatively impact our efforts towards improving food security. We believe this is a sentiment shared by many other nations. Last year, we declared Botswana drought stricken. This mostly affected smallholder farmers and rural communities. Due to the deteriorating weather conditions, we foresee the worst drought in 2016. The country has not received significant rains in a prolonged period. The situation is compounded by high heat waves, which burn out emerging crops. This poses a serious threat to our national food security.
We, however, we remain optimistic that our Conservation Agriculture strategy is one of the options available to reclaim depleted farmland and mitigating against climate change. Consequently, we hold the view that more resources should be geared towards Conservation Agriculture related strategies so as to help alleviate the developing world of the burdens of climate change.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairperson, I wish to reaffirm Botswana’s resolute support to the Fund’s mission.
I thank you!