botswanaBotswana is a landlocked country located in southern Africa. The country’s topography is flat and up to 70% of its area is covered by the Kalahari Desert. Drought and desertification are two major environmental problems. The capital of Botswana is Gaborone. With a geographical area of 224,607 miles but with a population of slightly over 2 million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. The country has been facing a severe problem of HIV/AIDS epidemic.



Administratively, Botswana is divided into nine districts, which are further sub-divided into 15 councils, mostly district councils and some town councils. Botswana is a success story in Africa due to its sensible development policies, good macro-economic management, lack of corruption, and so far sustained democracy. Since gaining independence in 1966, the country has shown extremely fast economic growth, changing its economic status from one of the poorest countries to a middle income nation. Botswana is the biggest producer of diamonds in the world. It is also said to have hitherto unexploited reserves of gold, uranium and copper. However, the government is keen to diversify its economy base rather than depending entirely on income from diamonds.  The climate of Botswana varies from semi-arid to sub-tropical and the rainy season is short. Summers are hot, and the dry season quite windy and dusty.

The agriculture sector of Botswana is dominated by cattle rearing and subsistence farming, but it suffers from erratic rainfall and soil erosion. Rain-fed farming is the norm. Agriculture supplies food to only half of the population. Presently, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP is barely 3 per cent, and about 80 per cent of that comes from the livestock sub-sector. Only about 0.4 per cent of the total land area is cultivable, and the average farm size is 2.3 hectares. Sorghum and maize are main crops but groundnut, beans, sunflower and millet are also grown. The national policy on agriculture prepared in 1991 is being reviewed in light of a number of initiatives including the Millennium Development Goals, the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, and the Maputo Declaration. Botswana is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Key Statistics and Indicators




Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)











Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)









GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)











Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)





Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*



















Sources:The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO 


History of extension and the enabling environment

Botswana presents an interesting case of the evolution of agricultural and livestock extension starting from 1926 when the earliest extension messages focused on livestock with the objective of improving dairy production. Extension agents, who covered both extension and research, were known as Dairy Inspectors.  The Department of Agriculture was established in 1935 to undertake research and extension activities covering crops and pastures. The Veterinary Department handled the livestock production. The extension workers were called as Foremen Farmers as well as Cattle Guards.

Starting 1947, the Cooperative Demonstration Plot Scheme (CDPS) was initiated. Under the scheme, selected farmers, called Cooperators, were given three plots each for comparative result demonstration purposes. Agricultural inputs were subsidized for the first three years. The approach, however, could not be sustained.  In 1962, another extension approach called Pupil Farmers Scheme, which was earlier used in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), was adopted in Botswana. Under this model, which continued till the 1970s, the farmers were promoted through specific categories, i.e. pupil, improved, progressive and master farmer. Each agriculture district had 15 pupil farmers. This model could not be up scaled.

The Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP) was launched in 1972 and extension services were advised to focus on commercial rather than subsistence farmers. Other sectors like education, health, etc. were also included. Obviously, the actual agricultural extension coverage remained quite limited.  In 1973, the Accelerated Rural Development Program (ARDP) was started. The program, however, could not go much beyond the capacity building of human resources.

During 1980s, with the technical assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Botswana adopted the Farming Systems Approach. At the same time, the government launched several projects in support of farmers, such as Arable Land Development Project (ALDEP), Irrigation and Water Development Project (IWDP), Accelerated Rain-fed Arable Project (ARAP), Livestock Management Infrastructure Development Project (LMDIP), and Agricultural Technology Improvement Project (ATIP).

Although all of these projects were useful, ALDEP in particular has been called as the most important program in support of smallholder agriculture. Under this project, technology packages were promoted and highly subsidized inputs were provided to selected farmers. The first phase, financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and African Development Bank (ADB) was implemented from 1982 to 1996. The second phase, funded by the Botswana Government, was implemented from 1997 to 2003 and presently, a third phase is underway. The target beneficiaries of this project are resource-poor farmers.

During the 1990s, the Ministry of Agriculture was re-organized. The re-organization split the former Department of Field Services into two parallel agricultural extension systems both at the ministry and regional levels; one system focused on livestock production and health, while the other on crop production and forestry.

In 2006, the Ministry of Agriculture was re-structured again, based on various recommendations including those coming from the first National Conference on Agricultural Extension held in 1995. Among other reforms, extension services were re-organized into one unified extension service. Field extension responsibilities were allocated to six Regional Agricultural Coordinators. The Agricultural Business Promotions Department was created. In line with another recommendation, the functions of crops and horticulture, animal production, farmers’ education, animal health, agricultural business promotion, and conservation of agricultural resources were placed under the Extension Service Coordination Department. The Rural Extension Coordinating Committee and farmers’ associations played active role in bringing about these institutional reforms.

Although the Department of Extension Service Coordination does not have its own technical staff yet it is responsible for coordinating activities of other departments’ human resources. This has led to the confusion in terms of leadership and role conflict among the staff. Inefficiency in the provision of extension services at field level has also been noticed.

The most recent initiative for agricultural development in Botswana is the National Master Plan for the Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development (NAMPAADD), started in 2002. During the first five years of implementation, the program has shown mixed results.  NAMPAADD aims at modernizing the agriculture sector. Agricultural “hub projects” launched under the program include Zambezi Integrated Agro-Commercial Project (ZIACDP), Agricultural Infrastructural Development Initiative (AIDI), Agricultural Services Centers (ASCs), Botswana Contributory Agricultural Insurance Scheme (BCAIS), State Farms around dams and sewage ponds (arable and horticultural), Botswana Meat Commission, and Banyana Ranch and other State-owned ranches (cattle sector).

Some of the weaknesses found in the extension system of Botswana include traditional and outdated methods, poor operational linkages among research, extension and farmers, and low education of field extension staff.  Both bilateral and multilateral donors have been providing financial and technical assistance to Botswana in various sectors including agriculture. Some of the donors are the World Bank, FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF, and IFAD, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), AfDB, as well as the national donors, including USAID, Canada, EU, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, France and Japan, plus the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck & Co., etc.

Extension Providers

Major institutions providing extension/advisory services

Public Institutions

Ministry of Agriculture MOA

Department of Extension Services Coordination
The mandate of the Department of Extension Services Coordination is to coordinate all agricultural programs and projects in Botswana to enhance the performance of the agriculture sector. This mandate is supposed to be fulfilled by bringing together all professional departments of the Ministry of Agriculture that provide technical information to the farming communities, including functioning in a united fashion. The department was established to improve extension delivery and its core business is to provide technical advice and assistance to farmers who may include small-scale, emerging, progressive and commercial producers. Main functions of the department are:

  • To coordinate  agricultural extension services of the Ministry of Agriculture with the aim of improving agricultural productivity;
  • To transfer knowledge and practical skills to various farming entrepreneurs;
  • To intensify farm visits by frontline extension workers and subject-matter specialists who demonstrate the use of new technologies and increase their adoption rate

Field extension responsibilities have been allocated to six Regional Agricultural Coordinators who have under them a number of field extension workers to assist the farmers.

Department of Agricultural Business Promotion
The Department of Agricultural Business Promotion was established to promote the commercialized, diversified, sustainable and competitive agricultural sector through business skills transfer, market access negotiations, and promotion of agricultural cooperatives and associations. The vision of the department is to become a dynamic agribusiness advisory center of excellence. The department comprises divisions of agricultural cooperatives, farm management, agricultural trade and agricultural marketing.

Botswana College of Agriculture 
The Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) does not provide direct agricultural extension services. However, it is an important institution due to its academic program in extension, an in-service training institute, and the very fact that it is the only college of agricultural sciences in the country. Established in 1991, BCA is a semi-autonomous institution under the Ministry of Agriculture, and an affiliate of the University of Botswana. The college is located at Content Farm in Sebele, a few miles away from the capital city Gaborone. BCA confers not only academic degrees on behalf of the University of Botswana, but it also offers a number of short training courses and diplomas in various agricultural disciplines through its Center for In-Service and Continuing Education. BCA also has Department of Agricultural Education and Economics which comprises three units, namely agricultural economics, agricultural education, and agricultural extension, which offer degree programs. The college has a consulting arm called BCA Consult, which enjoys several technical areas of competence including agricultural education and extension.

Non-Public Institutions

Private sector

There are no private companies in Botswana, involved in the provision of agricultural extension services.

Non-governmental organizations

There is no known NGO in Botswana, which is really engaged in rural and agricultural development. Existing NGOs are more interested in welfare issues, human rights, women and youth programs, HIV/AIDS epidemic, and trade matters. Names of a few NGOs based in Botswana are as follows:

  • BOCONGO (umbrella body for NGOs in Botswana)
  • Ditshwanelo – The Botswana Center for Human Rights
  • Emang Basadi Women’s Association
  • Botswana National Youth Council
  • Botswana Federation of Trade Unions
  • Botswana Secondary Teachers Union

Farmers-based associations, cooperatives and societies

Agricultural cooperatives in Botswana started in 1964 with the formation of Serowe Marketing Cooperative whose main purpose was to sell agricultural inputs and market farmers’ livestock to Botswana Meat Commission. The oldest horticultural cooperative is Kolobeng Horticultural Cooperative Society, formed in 1975. Presently, two categories of cooperatives are most common: livestock marketing cooperatives, and arable/crop production cooperatives. The cooperatives are beneficial to their farmer members in many ways. Although no examples of extension services are being provided by any cooperative, yet the extension component may be incorporated in major activities undertaken for the benefit of member farmers. The Division of Agricultural Cooperatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, which has several regional offices, is responsible for the development of cooperatives.  

Botswana has many farmers’ associations which, like agricultural cooperatives, work for the benefit of their members. A few examples are given below.

  • Northern Beekeepers Association, Tonota (North East)
  • Mahabapi Small Scale Farmers Association, Pandamateng (North East)
  • Dirang Livestock, Tati Town (North East)
  • Ghanzi Beef Producers Association, Ghanzi (Kgalagadi)
  • Kgatleng Piggery Association, Kgatleng
  • Kgatleng Poultry Association, Kgatleng
  • Botswana Poultry Association (Southern)
  • Southern Horticulture Growers Association (Southern)

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Botswana. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.



Training options for extension professionals

The Botswana College of Agriculture, presently affiliated with the University of Botswana, is transforming itself into an agricultural university of international repute. Pre-service education in agricultural extension may be pursued at this college. This key agricultural academic institution also has Center for In-Service and Continuing Education, which can organize special in-service training programs on demand from the extension staff. The University of Botswana also has a Center for Continuing Education with good facilities.


Info-mediaries and information and communication technology (ict) for agriculture and extension

According to the World Bank, in 2011, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) in Botswana was close to 143. During the same year, the number of Internet users (per 100 people) in the country was just 7. The use of cellular phones has mushroomed in the last few years, but the use of the Internet for various purposes is quite limited. Botswana College of Distance Education and Open Learning offers a number of programs.

Botswana prepared its ICT Policy (called Maitlamo) in 2007. An ICT Legal Framework has also been prepared as companion to this policy. Seven task forces have been put together to develop key aspects of the ICT policy. The Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) is the national telecommunications operator. Connectivity issues for rural communities are being debated. It will be some time before meaningful ICT applications will be made to the agriculture sector in general and to agricultural extension in particular. Presently, only radio and television are main electronic means available to agricultural extension staff.


Resources and references

Division of Agricultural Cooperatives, Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Botswana (no date). The Importance of Agricultural Cooperatives and their Future in Botswana

Hulela, K. and W.W. Miller (2003). The development of agricultural education in the education
system of Botswana. Proceedings of the 19 Annual Conference of AIAE, held at Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Pp. 305 – 315

Kimaro, W.H., L. Mukandiwa and E.Z.J. Mario (Eds.) (2010). Towards Improving Agricultural Extension Service Delivery in the SADC Region: Proceedings of the Workshop on Information Sharing among Extension Players in the SADC Region, held at Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, 26 – 28 July 2010. SADC Secretariat and European Commission

Lekorwe, M. and D. Mpabanga (2007). Managing non-governmental organizations in Botswana. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, Volume 12 (3), 2007, Article 10

Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Botswana (1991). National Agricultural Policy: 1991

Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Botswana (February 2013). National Agricultural Master Plan for Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development (NAMPAADD)

Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology, Republic of Botswana (2007). Draft National Information and Communications Technology Policy

Oladele, O.I., J. Lepetu, S.K. Subair and J. Obuh (2009). SWOT analysis of extension systems in Southern African Countries. Journal of Agriculture and Environment for International Development 2009, 103 (4): 309 - 320

SADC Secretariat (July 2008). Implementation and Coordination of Agricultural Research and Training (ICART) in the SADC Region: Situation Analysis of Agricultural Research and Training in the SADC Region (Botswana). FANR Directorate

Sebusang, S.E.M. and S. Masupe (no date; probably 2003). ICT development in Botswana: Connectivity for rural communities. Faculty of Engineering and Technology, University of Botswana

Seleke, T.L. and M. Lekorwe (2002). Cooperatives and Development: A Case of Citizen Economic Empowerment in Botswana. Coop Africa Working Paper No. 8. International Labor Organization (ILO)

United Nations Development Program (May 2009). Assessment of Development Results; Evaluation of UNDP Contribution; Botswana

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