Smart Farming Solutions Through Digital Development of Botswana

Smart Farming Solution

Botswana has gone from being one of the poorest countries in Africa to becoming one of the most successful, setting an example for other African nations. To this day, subsistence farming continues to support the majority of Botswana’s rural population and is the country’s primary economic activity. The digitization of this industry has the potential to greatly aid Botswana’s economic development and accelerate the country’s move toward a fully digital economy. Some infrastructure hurdles, including making sure rural smallholder farmers have access to power and the internet, must be cleared before digital applications can be implemented for them. On top of that, smallholder farmers have a tough time doing business on the farm because of their restricted proximity to urban centers, lack of agricultural machinery and other sources of vital supplies. The crux of the issue is figuring out how to get useful technology into the hands of smallholder farmers and then teach them how to utilize it so that the new digital service really benefits those farmers.

The agricultural situation in Botswana

Botswana relies significantly on food imports from its neighbors, particularly South Africa. Agricultural production on the national level meets just a small percentage of the country’s dietary requirements; hence, the vast majority of food is imported. Still, the country’s agricultural sector remains crucial, particularly for the countryside. Agriculture and livestock are major economic drivers in Botswana, supporting the livelihoods of a sizable section of the population. Botswana’s economy relies heavily on its smallholder farming community, which also provides food for many rural families.

Traditional agriculture in Botswana is very vulnerable to crises and inefficient because of the low skill level of the labor force and a lack of resources (such as a dearth of agricultural technology, tractors, farm implements, and combine harvesters). Farmers using the conventional method run the danger of insufficient food security since they usually just grow enough to meet their immediate requirements. They do this over and over again, never reaching their full productive capacity.

Smart Farming

Smart or precision farming is the term used to describe the use of information and communication technologies in the agricultural sector, which leads to the digitalization of this important part of the economy. Mobile phones, sensors, cloud computing, and low power wide area networks (LPWAN) are some of the most essential digital technologies that may be implemented. Large numbers of people in Botswana, especially in rural regions, make their living from farming and raising animals. Smart farming provides these rural farmers with access to information, tools, and markets they would not have had before.

Farmers in Botswana have a number of needs, including access to agricultural machinery and remote farm monitoring and management. The use of electronic ear tags to monitor the location and health of cattle is emphasized. Some kind of technical backbone is required for use of remote monitoring systems. LoRa technology provides a means of implementing remote monitoring in rural locations, in addition to providing access to energy and the internet.

Farmers on tiny plots of land in Botswana face a significant barrier to economic growth: the difficulty of traveling to far-off marketplaces and receiving a reasonable price for their produce there. By facilitating transactions between reliant parties, digital trading platforms may help smallholder farmers sell their products. By using a digital platform, manufacturers may connect directly with buyers, processors, retailers, and consumers, cutting away the need for any intermediaries.

How Smart Farming can be implemented?

The government may be able to play a role in supporting the introduction of new providers of technology and equipment for use in smart farming. The government may have to take the initiative by, for example, importing the first shipment in conjunction with the private company, before eventually handing control over to the latter. The private sector might catch up in a short amount of time with some aid from supply and demand connections, management and finance securities, or tax exemptions. Standardization is an area where governments may have an influence. Local circumstances and, more broadly, quality and the provision of service support may be set criteria for agricultural machinery or the technologies needed for smart farming. Farm output marketing infrastructure regulation and food quality and hygiene standards may also be subject to regulation. With the help of Tractor Provider, farmers can get their hands on reasonably cost agricultural machinery while also increasing their familiarity with ICT via the smart farming initiative. Botswana’s smallholder farmers have a reliable partner in Tractor Provider Ltd. which helps them make a living. Because of the abundance of different types of agricultural machinery, such as Massey Ferguson tractors for sale, New Holland tractors for sale, farm implements for sale, combine harvesters for sale, and other similar machines, Tractor Provider can play a crucial role in mechanizing agriculture and smart farming initiative in Botswana.

Making Mechanization Accessible to Smallholder Farmers of Botswana

Botswana’s agricultural production relies heavily on mechanization, but it also plays a key part in the industry’s value chain as a whole. Mechanizing agricultural crop value addition, from planting to selling, leads to greater value outputs, sustainable rural employment, lower post-harvest losses, improved quality and the inclusion of smallholders in the market economy. Individual smallholder farmers may not be able to afford the high costs of processing their crops in a sophisticated manner, but cooperative processing enterprises, with the right amount of technical help, certainly can. Enhanced use of agricultural machinery throughout the whole value chain, from producer to consumer, has the potential to dramatically increase output and improve the lives of everyone involved at every stage.

Government Support

The government may provide a hand in a variety of ways, some of which are as follows:

  • By adopting facilitative measures, such as lowering taxes and import fees on agricultural machinery. To a lesser extent, but still, significantly, infrastructure development in rural areas will be of assistance. The government’s concentrated attempt to promote tractors and make them more accessible to more farmers is a significant role in increasing agricultural machinery use; lowering the excise tax is one method to do this;
  • By improving one’s technical and managerial abilities in business via systematic and concentrated training;
  • By using monetary incentives to increase demand. For instance, lending institutions might advertise loans with more favorable interest rates for the purpose of buying agricultural machinery. Distributing electronic coupons for mechanization services to the poorest segments of the smallholder community is another strategy to increase demand for these services in the private sector.

Public sector involvement in the forms mentioned above is essential to a successful mechanization process, notably the provision of cheap loans for agricultural machinery acquisition. Focusing on empowering private sector enterprises will generate employment among the different players in the supply and value chains, but top-down planning (such as attaining a given level of kW/ha in a certain time period) is unlikely to be the solution.

Smallholder Development

Government production subsidies may increase farm family earnings for smallholders. Improvements in cropping systems guidance are part of the robust extension services that have developed in tandem with the rise of mechanization. It is recommended that plots be combined in order to facilitate automation. The trend toward urbanization has opened up opportunities for the sale of land and the development of large-scale estates, while mechanization has helped those who are often left behind to care for the family farm—women, the elderly, and children.

The liberation of markets and the shift away from communal types of farming toward allowing individual farmers to make their own choices have facilitated more mobility and the opportunity to purchase and sell land. More and more, farmers may make use of the internet-based extension service made possible by advances in information technology, which also helps to modernize agricultural practices. The tiers of government responsible for the agricultural extension service start at the national level and work their way down to the township level. The key to fostering agricultural expansion is investing in infrastructure (mostly transportation, but also utilities).

Agricultural machinery in Botswana

The government of Botswana should have a significant role in the purchase of agricultural machinery for subsistence farmers. Spare parts availability and training on how to operate and maintain agricultural machinery are also high on the list of concerns. The following considerations are essential for success in Botswana’s market.

  • The agricultural machinery used, must be simple to both maintain and operate. The ideal system would have straightforward controls;
  • It is recommended that tractor motors use as few electrical parts as possible. Because of their cheap cost, minimal maintenance, high torque, and secure fuel storage, simple diesel engines are often favored;
  • It is important to set up service networks in close proximity to end consumers (a suggested minimum is for 20 service centers per country);
  • It is impossible to have a good marketing campaign without extensive training.

Tractors with four wheels drive are popular because of their increased adaptability, security, and user-friendliness. Moreover, they have access to a wider variety of farm implements. Tractor Provider Ltd. was established to help smallholder farmers in Botswana in affording high-quality agricultural machinery at affordable costs. Tractor Provider Ltd. has provided a much-needed service to the simple farmers of Botswana by making available a wide variety of agricultural machinery, tractors, farm implements, combine harvesters, etc. Farmers are optimistic about the project’s future prospects since they have access to several options for agricultural machineries, such as Massey Ferguson tractors in Botswana, New Holland tractors in Botswana, farm implements, combine harvesters, and more.