Africa-Press – Botswana. Botswana is expected to start exporting citrus fruits to other countries in future and in the process increase the country’s export revenue, as well as promote smart technology.
This followed the launch of a multi-million pula Citrus Project in Selebi-Phikwe by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who said the project will reduce the country’s import bill.
“The process that led to the establishment of this project was not smooth. However government, the investors and other relevant stakeholders were able to reach an agreement to make this project a reality,” Masisi said on Friday.
Government has invested P300 million into the project that will be undertaken as a collaboration between Mmadinare Multi Purpose Cooperatives and Blydevallei International South Africa.
The project is also expected to contribute to the economic growth of the SPEDU region.
Once operational, it is expected to create at least 1,000 jobs. The production will be done in phases which will include also testing of other fruit varieties like mango and avocado. The Citrus Project was born out of a benchmarking exercise to Blydevallei International South Africa at Hoedspruit Limpopo province in September last year where Cabinet and the President witnessed
the operations of the company. Although the process to establish the project was not smooth sailing, the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre has been instrumental in ensuring the seamless facilitation of the project.
The project is in alignment with government’s strategy to modernise the country’s agricultural sector with the view to boost food security and nutrition in Botswana.
Citrus production and its entire value chain is a sub-sector with tremendous potential for economic diversification and job creation for this country. Governmenthas supported farmers involved in the fruit tree production through the provision of funds for the importation of citrus seedlings and other fruit trees, which was done at a very small scale. The current annual citrus production in Botswana is estimated at 3 165 metric tonnes, 2.64% of the local demand whilst 97% is imported from other countries.
Between 2015 and 2019, an average of 14, 800 tonnes of citrus fruits, particularly sweet oranges, lemons, mandarins and grape fruits were imported at an average cost of P77. 9 million.