When rain clouds don't gather

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Presented at the Agri4D 2013 conference at the session on Transforming Gender Roles in Agriculture: - Ways Forward

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When rain clouds don't gather

  1. 1. Gender, Agriculture and Food Security in Botswana By Onalenna Selolwane
  2. 2.     Largely dependent on rainfall Almost all the grains (sorghum, maize and millet) are priduced through rainfed agriculture using mixed crop cropping systems The sector is dominated by small scale producers cultivating fields 5ha and below. But also has medium scale farmers (5 ha and 15 ha) Larger farmers plough more than 15 ha, with only 2% ploughing more than 300 ha
  3. 3.  Crop production contributes less than 20% agricultural GDP  provides on average 20% of the national demand for grains, 15% of the demand for vegetables, 25% of the demand for fruits  Has highly variable output: with grains varying from 8.2 thousand to 175 thousand metric tons.  Female farmers are more involved in crops than in the livestock sector 
  4. 4.    Because crop production is largely rainfed, rainfall patterns play a very significant role in the crop sector But rainfall is very low and highly variable within and between years Within a twenty year cycle there will be     years of relative wetness where rainfall is mostly above average and years of mostly below average rainfall and even serious drought. When the wet has steady, generous rain that allows for optimum plant growth and respectable harvests, Batswana define this pattern as female rains. Male rains are those that are inadequate in the provision of sustained moisture and expected volume of harvests
  5. 5.  the soils Drought exacerbates deficiencies of the soil  Reduces capacity of fertilisers to enrich the soil  Results in soils that have low capacity to retain moisture  Reduces productivity   crop production Insufficient moisture inhibits plant germination and growth  Reduces capacity of plants to absorb nutients from fertilizers  Leads to low and erratic yields.  Makes crop production highly risky. 
  6. 6.  Male Farmers Have relatively better access to cattle draught power  Have relatively higher cash income earnings  Tend to have better balance of male and female labour, so on average   Plough larger fields  Produce relatively igher  Female Farmers Have less access to cattle draught power, and  Also tend to have less cash income and investible resources,  Also challenged by limited access to male labour, so   Rely on borrowing and tend to plough smaller fields  Tend to have lower output
  7. 7.   Botswana’s low and erratic rainfall conditions have historically resulted in low and erratic crop outputs. Among households still dependent on cropping, food strategies have relied on combining on farm production with a wide variety of off farm activities    Wage employment Sale of crafts and veld products Subsistence gathring and hunting.
  8. 8.      Wage employment for most people does not provide sufficient income to meet household food and other requirements Rural households that are food secure are those with principal members engaged in cash employment and investing in crop production The least food secure are those whose crop output falls below 60% of the caloric needs of the family, but cannot make up the deficit through cash purchases Because both crop production and cash employment do not provide adequately for the rural households, many depend on government support. Women account for a significant proportion of those with food deficits.
  9. 9.   Botswana’s harsh physical environment has always undermined household and national capacity for food production But a number of new and persistent threats are adding to the precarious situation and these include:        Global warming and declining water resources Urbanization and urban sprawl eating arable fields to grow houses Heavy imports that undercut local crop prices Aging population of farmers and declining youth participation Persisting lack of innovation and technology Persisting weak agricultural infrastructure Sluggish markets and marketing infrastructure
  10. 10.    Crop Production Has Mostly been dominated by staples and other traditional crops But crop diversification offers new opportunities that might expand the food security and cash income position of small scale farmers and women in particular. These include small scale irrigation based horticulticaltural produce  Animals feeds  Fruits   Irrigation is grossly underdeveloped and its potential underutilized in Botswana
  11. 11.  Although Botswana’s Vision 2016 envisages an innovative society, the education strategy has not been geared at creative an innovative and productive society     Like most African countries Botswana has focussed on achieving basic education for all at the expense of higher education where innovation effectively begins. This compares unfavourably with north African and middle east countries which had lower levels of education among the working age population but have now reached more than 50% working age piopulation in higher education. Botswana has only belated strated refocussing away from producing public servants towards training for science, technology and private sector skill requirements. There is great potential to use education for skill development and innovation.

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