GABORONE, BOTSWANA - Botswana's president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, says his government will allow farmers to keep small game as a way to encourage locals’ participation in agro-tourism. He added that it is paramount for them to have a stake in the industry.
Speaking in a televised address Saturday, Masisi said Botswana’s tourism sector needs a boost after the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In order to revive Botswana’s tourism sector, government shall accelerate initiatives aimed at stimulating local and international tourism by creating an enabling environment for increased investment in the tourism sector, in particular citizen participation,” he said.
Masisi said, as one of the measures to boost tourism, his government will allow local farmers keep wildlife within their properties.
“The agro-tourism guidelines are also being reviewed to facilitate citizens to make a decent living out of their fields (masimo) to complement agro-tourism and diversify its products. Game farming guidelines shall soon be issued to enable those Batswana who are interested to keep small game or wildlife in their fields if they meet set criteria,” Masisi said.
Local farmer Banks Ndebele has previously sought permission to keep small game in his property outside the capital Gaborone.
He said while it is a welcome initiative, the government must remove bottlenecks, which might impede the initiative's implementation.
"I think it’s a welcome development. It has always been our belief that agriculture needs to be diversified. One only hopes that the government will remove bottlenecks and impediments that end up discouraging people from taking up the initiative," Ndebele said.
Tourism is a significant contributor to the southern African nation’s economy, employing nearly 100,000 people.
But the impact of COVID-19 has been devastating, with all bookings cancelled for the rest of the year, leaving many people jobless.