Published on: 2015-06



Botswana is one of the southern African countries characterised as an arid, with only 6% of the total land area
naturally suitable for agriculture. The country is therefore known for its fragile ecological environment, more than
50% of its population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods with women and children dominating.
Agricultural systems sustaining this segment of the population interact intricately with natural woodlands/forests and
aquatic environments. Therefore, due to the dictates of the biophysical and climatic environment, livestock dominates
Botswana’s agriculture, and the subsector accounts for over 80% of the country’s agriculture Gross Domestic
Product (GDP). While arable agriculture output is erratic depicting the highly variable nature of rains in the country.
Against this background, the country is vulnerable to the current and projected negative impacts of climate change
and variability. Over the past four decades the contribution of agriculture to Botswana’s GDP has shrunk from 30%
to the current 2-3% partly due to the rise in contribution from other economic sectors especially mining and also
because of stagnant productivity. However, this has not effectively diminished the importance of the agricultural
production sector to the country’s sustainable development goal. The country is a net importer of major agricultural
products, including staple cereals, dairy products and industrial raw materials. This situation raises the question of
access, particularly by the rural poor. The country’s experiences during the global economic crisis and the global food
crisis of the late 2000s revealed critical deficiencies in the country’s current food security and agricultural development
strategies, as well as its vulnerability to regional and global impacts of climate change and variability.