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Botswana Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
Livestock management dominates agriculture in Botswana, which is characterized by dry climate and lean soils. The cultivable area is limited, although there is potential for irrigation mainly in the areas around the Okavango Delta and the Chobe River (Linyanti). Agriculture traditionally has an important social and cultural function, but is not central to government finances.
Although almost half of the adult population is employed in agriculture, it contributes only a few percent of gross domestic product (GDP). A large part of the younger workforce has left the countryside.
Beef accounts for about 80 percent of agricultural production. A large part of the meat is exported to the EU. When the EU imposed an import ban in 2011, due to handling deficiencies, it meant a severe setback for the industry that had to seek other recipients. The ban was lifted after just over a year.
Exports are controlled by a state monopoly that owns one of Africa's largest complexes with slaughterhouses, tanneries, preservation factories, etc., in Lobatse.
Apart from beef, it is mainly chicken that is produced commercially. In an attempt to broaden the export base, investments are made in milk products; so far, Botswana imports milk. Investments are also made on ostrich breeding and fish farming. However, development is slow, even though demand is high.
Small farmers keep cows, goats and sheep as well as grow for self-catering on collectively owned land, which makes up about 70 percent of the country's area. Land distribution is monitored by district councils. There are also commercial farms on private land that account for most of meat exports. The privately owned land constitutes just over 5 percent of Botswana's area, the rest being state-owned and in various ways nature-protected areas. Half of the country's households own neither land nor livestock.
Many of the small farmers survive with the help of government grants, especially during years of drought. A majority also depends on someone in the family having employment, primarily in commercial agriculture. Climate change is expected to further deteriorate the conditions for cultivation.
The most common crops are maize, sorghum, millet and beans. Food production is far from sufficient. Botswana has to import most, mainly from South Africa.
Fishing is unusual in Botswana, which has no contact with the sea and has few permanent watercourses. The Okavango Delta offers the opportunity for exotic fly fishing for tourists.
FACTS - AGRICULTURE
Agriculture's share of GDP
2.0 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
45.6 percent (2016)
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