Botswana’s import bill shows that the country imports a lot of citrus products; a gap that needs to be filled by local farmers to consistently meet the demand. One such local farmer, Daniel Makwana, the owner of the Set Mak orange farm in Molalatau, is one of the few locals who have taken the initiative to venture into citrus farming to generate local produce to meet the demand in the country.
Makwana: “I started the business in 2011 using my own money and I used over a million pula [€83,000] to buy the land and also get the necessary equipment that I needed to start production,” Makwana said. According to Makwana, he was fortunate to get assistance from Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) years later that assisted with training, provision of necessary skills to run his business successfully as well as assisting with market for his produce. The 17.1-hectare piece of land is located in Molalatau; a village situated a few kilometres outside Bobonong in the Bobirwa area. The orange trees cover six hectares of the farm while another three hectares is used for the production of maize and watermelons.
The farm boasts of two wells that are used to provide water for the farm and they use an electric pump to pump water from the boreholes to water the plants that Makwana says is one of the biggest production expenses they incur, as a business due to the fact that their watering equipment uses a lot of electricity during operation. The farm also has two irrigation systems of which the oranges get watered via the sprinklers that target each tree whereas the field crop section of the farm uses a centre pivot, which Makwana acquired through the assistance of ISPAAD.
Makwana says the citrus production industry has a lot of perks besides the challenges they encounter, which include the fact that they have the liberty to choose their clients. With the interventions of the trade license authorities that deal with the import of citrus products usually consult farmers to give them priority during the harvest time.
[ 1 pula = € 0,083 ]