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Botswana optimistic about local apple production


Farmers in Botswana are looking forward to starting the commercial production of apples, after the introduction of semi-arid varieties of apple trees suitable for local conditions.

According to Botswana’s Ministry of Agriculture, apple farming in the country was a challenge as a result of unfavourable weather conditions. The newly introduced varieties,
which include Anna, Golden Dorsett and Pink Lady apples, can survive hot summers and winter frost, according to the company supplying the apple trees.

A spokesperson said the ministry had initiated a new strategy for horticulture, adding that it was expected to also promote apple farming.

“Apple production is included as an important avenue for investment by private investors,” the ministry said in a statement.

Tomapple Investments, a Botswana-based company, was responsible for producing the apple tree seedlings suitable for local conditions. In a statement, the company said it was confident the country would see an increase in the number of farmers venturing into commercial apple production, thereby reducing reliance on imports of the fruit.

According to the company, data from major retail outlets in the country had indicated a demand for a minimum of 10t of apples per week. These were currently imported, mostly from South Africa.

“Based on results achieved by many farmers during the past five years, it will be possible to stop importing apples and consume locally grown apples.

“For the past five years, almost 10 000 trees have been supplied to different farmers across the country. To produce the volume of apples needed to meet annual demand, and to also cater for locally produced apple products such as apple juice, apple cider vinegar and dried fruit, we need to plant at least 20 000 apple trees,” a director of Tomapple Investments, Thomas Jaravaza, said.

Aspirant apple farmer, Tiroyaone Molefe, said that pilot projects using the new cultivar proved very successful in the country.