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National Development Bank (NDB) has over the past 10 years funded the agricultural sector to the tune of P1.7 billion. This was brought to the fore by NDB Chief Executive Officer, Lorato Morapedi at the Chobe Agricultural show on Friday in Pandamatenga. NDB has been the main sponsor for the annual agricultural show for many years and it seems like the relationship between the bank and Pandamatenga farmers is growing from strength to strength.
Morapedi stated that of the P 1.7 billion, P500 million was invested on commercial farmers in the chobe region. She observed that this is a clear indication that NDB is committed in ensuring that Botswana achieves her dream of attaining food security and drastically reducing the food import bill. Furthermore, Morapedi revealed that NDB has signed a memorandum of understanding with Pandamantenga Commercial Farmers Association which remains the bank’s commitment to the development of the agricultural sector in the area and also bring other economic benefits to the region.
“It is worth noting that through this partnership, we have insisted that commercial farmers should provide support to small scale farmers to improve their output and efficiencies. This is done through sharing information, experiences and exchanging ideas. The initiative has resulted in some small scale farmers achieving average yields of 2.5 tonnes per hector, which is quite commendable,” she confidently said.
According to Morapedi, the bank recently launched the 2019-2022 strategy called Letsema that will guide their journey into the future in which agriculture remains one of their focus areas. She added that the strategy will focus on innovation after coming to the realization that in order to reach optimum levels of production, farmers have to embrace new technologies and innovation for them to produce more with less. “These include weather controlled production methods such as irrigation farming, green houses and the use of drones among others. I am pleased to inform you that four of our farmers in Pandamatenga have been training in operating drones,” she further held. In collaboration with their other key partners, Morapedi said they are also exploring the integration of agro technologies into a complete digital production system that will assist farmers to reach optimal production levels. The bank will further be promoting conservation agriculture and green farming which are critical to mitigate the impact of climate change and improve production levels whilst reducing production costs.
The relationship between commercial the Pandamatenga Commercial farmers and NDB comes a long way as the bank has been in existence since 1987. The bank has helped some commercial farmers in Chobe to graduate from small scale farming to large scale commercial farming through loans to buy modern agricultural machinery. Morapedi buttressed that commercial farmers in Pandamantenga have managed to increase their yields from 25 000 tonnes per year to 45 000 tonnes per year over the past 10 years. Pandamantenga farms which are the food basket of the country produces 90 per cent of food produced locally.
When giving a keynote address, Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Fidelis Molao said it is notable that NDB plays an important role in the growth of Pandamatenga and the agricultural sector in its entirety. “Your relationship dates back to 1978. Despite various challenges such as poor rains, quelea, flooding and climate change, you continue to support the agricultural sector,” he averred. Molao underscored that NDB’s support is not only centred on financing, but includes regular up-skilling programmes, and partnering with other players across the agricultural value chain.
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