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NARDI to lead demonstration of technologies to farmers through a European Commission funded project called DIVAGRI

Revenue DIVersification pathways in Africa through bio-based and circular AGRIcultural innovations (DIVAGRI) is a consortium project that aims to increase the productivity, income and economic opportunities of subsistence and smallholder farmers by implementing innovative bio-based solutions that will improve agricultural production, enable diversification of crops and increase value addition, create environmental, social, and economic sustainability, and generate new local economic opportunities.  The project has received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme to provide farmers with tools to sustainably improve farm productivity, profitability, and resilience through improved management of farming resources, output diversification and creation of high-value circular bioproducts.

DIVAGRI is implemented by a consortium of twenty-one institutions that have competence, commitment, vision, and reliability for its success. The consortium comprises of experts in the agricultural sciences, engineering, bio-based technologies, food systems, circular bioeconomy, business and entrepreneurship and education in five African (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique and Ghana) and six European (Austria, Bulgaria, Turkey, North Macedonia, Spain & Germany) countries.

NARDI will demonstrate six (6) bio-based technologies that will be co-developed with smallholder farmers through the Communities of Practice (CoPs), Learning Practice Alliances (LPAs), and Knowledge Sharing Centres (KSC).  The technologies demonstrated will be coupled with business solutions targeting farming inputs, farming practices, processing and access to markets. Specifically, NARDI will showcase (i) Multifunctional Constructed Wetlands, (ii) Solar Supported Biogas Digester, (iii) Low-Tech Mobile Kilns for Biochar production, (iv) Mobile Integrated Biorefineries, (v) SLECI Technology (Self-Regulating Low Energy Clay-based Irrigation), and (vi) Novel Ethnobotanical Intercropping and Regenerative Farming Techniques.  These demonstrations are expected to be up taken by farmers and hence transform small scale agriculture in Botswana. Farmers will be able to see how practices work and will be able to use them on their own farms and generate food and income.

Impala in the Northeast district and Mmamanaka in Bobirwa subdistrict are two NARDI stations where the identified technologies will be piloted, then demonstrated in selected farmers’ fields around the pilot sites.  A total of seven (7) demonstration sites consisting of farms used for production of dryland field crops and horticulture produce have been selected.  Four of these are linked to the Impala pilot site while three will work with the Mmamanaka station.  The demonstration sites will be operated by the owner farmers and will benefit farmers’ clusters around them (Communities of Practice).

Activities conducted by NARDI to date

The activities started with the orientation of staff members to be engaged in implementing the project. Meetings with farmers and stakeholders were conducted on the 26th and 27th of January 2022 at Bobonong and Francistown respectively to sensitize them on the project.

NARDI has also identified demonstration sites and Communities of Practice (CoPs).  This exercise was achieved through consultations with farmers associations (for both rain-fed field crops & horticulture) and agricultural officials (extension and agricultural business). Baseline surveys of the farmers involved in the project and their farming practices, as well as profiles of the pilot and demonstration farms, were also conducted.

Table 1. Demonstration sites of DIVAGRI technologies

FFD1aMLM Farm –Molalatau,Bobirwa subdistrict
FFD1cMMR Farm (Ramosamo)MaisweBobirwa subdistrict
FFD1dRatoccs farm (Johane)DitladiNortheast district
FFD1eMmilidzi investment (Malikongwa)DitladiNortheast district
FFD1fDibongwana (Pillar)DibongwanaTonota district
FFD1gNlapkhwane (Egga)NlapkhwaneNortheast district
FFD1hMMT Farm  (Mothobi)NtshimanyanaBobirwa subdistrict