07 February 2020
Excellencies and distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of Botswana, it is an honour and privilege to address the 40th Session of the Governing Council of IFAD. At the outset, I would like to express our gratitude to the Government and the people of Italy, for their warm welcome and generous hospitality.
Let me also take this opportunity to applaud President Nwanze, for his dedication and the invaluable guidance and wisdom to this body during his tenure. On behalf of the Government of Botswana, we wish him well in his future endeavours.
As a Net-Food Importing Developing country, we relate very well to IFAD’s mandate towards reduction of rural poverty, particularly stemmed on improved smallholder farmers. In this regard, we recognise the need to invest or rather robustly channel resources to this category of farmers if we are to achieve zero hunger and eradicate poverty, as enshrined in Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2.
The smallholder farmers are of the majority, they are less resourced and more susceptible to the harsh realities of the agricultural sector, a factor that requires a delicate approach in assisting them to achieve food security.
As indicated above, the harsh effects of climate change on agriculture affect the smallholder farmers disproportionately. In order to build resilience for this farming group, there is need to explore avenues to mitigate against such shocks. Over and above that, issues of smart partnerships such as Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and linkages in market access need to be availed in order to cushion them.
Botswana is not unique from other Sub-Saharan countries, with more than 50% of rural households deriving their livelihood from agriculture. This overwhelming proportion of the populace and primarily being smallholder farmers gives enough impetus for their improvement, with anticipated ripple effects in the wider economy.
It is also comforting to note that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks prosperity, health and security for all, has the potential to address the issues that continue to hinder the smallholder farmers from realising their full potential. In a nutshell, Agenda 2030 itself depends on the smallholder farmers to succeed; hence the enhancement of their productivity is imperative.
Chairperson, despite the waning rural population owing to urban migration and the effects of climate change on agriculture, amongst other pressures, let me assure you that my Government remains unfazed in its commitment to improving rural communities’ livelihoods. Through our effective partnership with IFAD on the Agricultural Services Support Project (ASSP) that aims at economic diversification, reduction of rural poverty, food insecurity and improved livelihoods, we have realized the potential in our farmers. We therefore encourage that such collaboration be extended to other parts of the world where there is great need.
In the same vein, I would like to urge my fellow colleagues to devise new strategies to address climate change. It is critical that such strategies mostly focus on disaster response, and less on adaptation, mitigation and resilience. Climate change challenges are here and we need to tackle them head-on and promptly.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairperson, I wish to reaffirm Botswana’s unwavering commitment to the Fund’s goal, as well as our support to the next IFAD’s President in achieving the first and second Sustainable Development Goals – “no poverty and zero hunger by 2030”.
I thank you for your attention!