Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Call for more fruit and vegetable research in Botswana

Horticulture farmers in Botswana have called on the government to fund research and development (R&D) in the sector to increase its productivity and the quality of its outputs. At the Botswana Horticultural conference held last month in Gaborone, representatives from the Botswana Horticultural Council said that lack of plant breeds adapted to the country's climatic conditions is hurting production and has maintained a reliance on imports. According to Michael Diteko, chair of the council, farmers lacked appropriate technologies, such as new or improved seed varieties, or better farming techniques that can produce higher yields. "Research and development of new technologies is lacking; from independence [1966] to date we do not have any crop breeds suitable for our local conditions." Samodimo Ngwako, a plant breeder and senior lecturer at the Botswana College of Agriculture, said the country was lagging in agricultural R&D. "We don't have enough breeders in horticultural research," he said. Botswana's 736 horticulture farmers buy most of their seed from South Africa. But these have been bred for conditions ranging from that country's Mediterranean climate in the south-west, temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the north-east.

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