Botswana has not taken any keen interest in developing and processing some of the food not consumed locally for consumption by others elsewhere, where they may be considered a delicacy.
Speaking at the launch of Botswana Food Science Technology (BOFoSTA) last week, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure Science and Technology (MIST), Mr Dikagiso Mokotedi said it was now time for the country to seriously look at some of the lost opportunities and see if they could not be exploited.
Mr Mokotedi said the country was moving into a time where there was limited choices in terms of what ‘we eat to an era where climate change has become a menace to our livelihoods’.
He said for many centuries the country had been dependent on cattle and other domesticated animals. Unfortunately, it has become very evident that the advent of climate change was becoming terribly severe for the animals’ survival, he said.
“We therefore have to look beyond our traditional food sources and time is now to start the process, investigations and research by learning from others,” he said.
He challenged BOFoSTA, as experts in food technology, to explore these avenues and generate solutions that would be able to assist in finding alternatives.
He thanked the University of Botswana for therole they have played in the formation of the association.
“I am hopeful that many players in the food industry shall embrace BOFoSTA and become members,” he said.
He encouraged members to look beyond just being an association, and move to a point where they developed a legislation to control the food industry and regulate the environment where products could be exported in certified mechanisms.
“As we continue to promote the uptake of science, technology, engineering and mathematics among the community of a girl child, I am hopeful that more women shall join so that they become the backbone of the association,” he said.
Mr Mokotedi expressed satisfaction that women have always played a pivotal role in food security of all households through the ingenious food preservation technology over many centuries, despite the lack of exposure to modern western scientific principles.
He said as MIST, they cherished the moment when they were witnessing a collaboration of scientists in the country, where they have made a determination that they shall come together for a common purpose of pushing the fronts of science, technology and innovation for the benefit of the nation.
“Through this effort of cutting the ribbon to expose this plaque, it is an event that shows that BOFoSTA is now officially born and officially launched, thus becoming the first born of MIST,” he concluded.
The president of BOFoSTA, Dr Minah Mosele stated that the formation of BOFoSTA was a long awaited activity that they had set for themselves as the food, science and technology fraternity in Botswana.
“We believe this is the right time for BOFoSTA and it is not too early or too late. We need to embrace it as such as we have close to 50 applications for membership so far,” she said.
She said, amongst others, the objective of BOFoSTA was to create a forum for stakeholders in the food industry, academia, research institutions, government, private sectors, SMMEs, and the civil society to come together, exchange ideas, share best practices and also improve public understanding of food science and technology by holding workshops and seminars to educate the public .