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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

FAO Director General meets Botswana’s Minster of Agriculture

“Our first priority is always to improve the agriculture sector, to give Botswana a better life” - Christiaan de Graaff

24 November 2014, Rome -- FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva met with Botswana’s Minister for Agriculture Christiaan de Graaff, who was in Rome to attend the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), which took place last week at FAO headquarters.

The ICN2 is an inclusive inter-governmental meeting on nutrition jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Food production is very important, which is why every time FAO is calling a meeting we come to learn and benchmark from other countiries,” said the Minister.

In his meeting with FAO’s Director-General, the Minister discussed his enthusiasm to improve agriculture strategies in the country, but declared that a first priority needs to be an evaluation of micronutrient deficiencies in the country.

The two main outcome documents of the conference are the Rome Declaration on Nutrition: a political commitment document, and the Framework for Action: a set of recommendations to be implemented according to local contexts.

Minister de Graaff added that he was looking forward to see how to implement the declaration and the Framework for Action in Botswana.

Resilience and the Way Forward

According to the Minister, over last 5 years Botswana has improved food production by approximately 350 per cent and last year, because of the good rains, it improved 572 per cent.

The Director-General emphasized his pride of the remarkable achievements by Botswana, particularly in the livestock sector and for their role as strong exporters for the global market.

After a period of restrictions on their beef exports, Botswana has successfully rebuilt their market and has once again become a leader in African beef exports to Europe.

“We are very serious about becoming self-sufficient,” said the Minister. “I think we can achieve that in the next two-three years.”

Outreach Results

The Director-General commended the outreach work being implemented by the country, citing the subsidies provided to all farms under 5 hectares, promoting school feeding programmes which use products from local farmers, and the overall building, monitoring and improvement of the agriculture sector in the country.

“My country has achieved a lot in the last five years and food production is very important for us, and very close to my president, said the Minister. He is pushing us everyday to make sure that we achieve our goals in becoming self-sufficient.” 

The Director-General reaffirmed FAO’s commitment to the Government and people of Botswana, agreeing with the Minister that they can achieve the necessary results, working together hand-in-hand to bring food security to the people.