MOU SIGNING BETWEEN (BUAN) AND MOENG ALUMNI AGRIBUSINESS CO-OPERATIVE ON HORTICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND VALUE CHAIN DEVELOPMENT
The 25th of May 2023 did not only mark the African Day celebration at BUAN, but also marked an important milestone for BUAN and Moeng Alumni Agribusiness Co-operative as the duo signed a memorandum of Understanding on Horticultural Production and Value chain development. For his remarks, the BUAN Vice Chancellor, Professor Ketlhatlhogile Mosepele stated that according to Statistics Botswana import bill reflected that the country was a net importer of food which called for BUAN to lead a change in building a food and nutrition secure nation. “Our vision is ‘To be an Innovative and Research-Intensive University in Agriculture and Natural Resources’, however innovation and research on their own will not make Botswana food and nutrition secure,” explained Prof Mosepele. He went on to state that the institution’s mission is ‘To produce innovative graduates and technological solutions for sustainable development in agriculture and natural resources’, but producing graduates on its own won’t make the country food and nutrition secure. The missing key is knowledge translation and transfer. There is need to transfer knowledge to society, to work with communities in the country to share expertise and knowledge for the benefit of all. “Community service is a key component of our functions at BUAN and today’s event is a manifestation of that vital key in contribution to food and nutrition secure Botswana”, said the Vice Chancellor. BUAN’s strategic themes are research intensification, academic excellence, entrepreneurial drive and agile operations. The signing of the MOU resonates well with the first three pillars. Also, the MOU affirm the institution’s tagline of ‘Inspiring Sustainable Growth’, as BUAN inspire through knowledge sharing, community service, partnerships, and collaborations. He said he felt honoured for BUAN to be partnering with Moeng Alumni Agribusiness Cooperative to address challenges that have dampened agricultural productivity as Botswana encourages farmers to form clusters and cooperatives to engage in agriculture productivity as there was value in partnerships. For his remarks, the Board Chairman of Moeng Alumni Agribusiness Cooperative, Dr Howard Sigwele informed all that the cooperative was formed by Alumni of Moeng two years ago. The cooperative has around 100 members which included farmers and was open to anyone to join for its growth. The Cooperative has acquired land in Serowe which will be beneficial for the MOU. “The contribution of agriculture on the country’s GDP was only 3% due to low productivity, African union has a set standard for its member countries to meet and Botswana does not meet that standard”, he said. Dr Sigwele went on to sight import bill statistics for fresh vegetables and fruits which proved that there was low production in the country. He explained that there was need to increase productivity through transfer of knowledge and skills and collaborations and the major player was BUAN. “If we joint hands properly, transparently and consistently, we can do better”, he stated. He said that a university should be seen to make an impact in the country and that through the MOU it will be doable adding that there were funds available to kick start the activities of the MOU and was looking forward to possibility of joint venture. The technical team from BUAN will be led by Dean of Faculty of Agriculture, Prof Justin Chepete who welcomed initiative with both hands and was looking forward to the implementation and facilitation of the partnership to transfer knowledge into skills. The following are the objectives of the MOU: a) allow BUAN to provide end-to-end technical support to Moeng Agribusiness Co-operative in order to establish and undertake horticultural production at commercial level; b) establish cooperation for research and knowledge sharing in order to attain sustainable utilization of horticultural production resources; c) strengthen capabilities of the participants through collaborative projects, research, education, and training on horticultural production value chain; d) provide expanded and improved opportunities for participants and students involved in the field of horticultural production value chain through training; e) use the resources of the participants effectively and efficiently towards implementation of the projects and advancing the development of horticultural production and value chain development. The areas of cooperation are: The participants will cooperate in among other things, horticultural production resources and value addition, research, and other forms of cooperation which may include; a) education and training in the field of horticultural production and value addition; b) information sharing; c) joint project implementation; d) joint use of participants resources and facilities; e) development of opportunities for research and enhancement of educational exchange programmes; and f) other activities and projects that may be jointly decided upon by the participants.