• Sunflower oil imports rose from P291m in 2019 to P484m in 2024.
  • Between 2019 and 2022, Botswana imported over P10m worth of oilcake and other solid residues of sunflower seed

Local dryland farmers are reported to be gradually resorting to sunflower production in anticipation of heightened demand occasioned by emergence of an international sunflower oil manufacturer who will be operating out of the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

While the local sunflower industry has registered virtually no real growth over the years, domestic demand for oilcake and vegetable oil remains on the rise.

Figures from Statistics Botswana indicate that sunflower oil imports rose from P291million in 2019 to P484 million in 2024. Between 2019 and 2022, Botswana imported over P10 million worth of oilcake and other solid residues of sunflower seed.

This despite the fact that Botswana’s semiarid climate is ideal for sunflower production as the drought resistant crop is able to produce relatively consistent yields under adverse weather conditions.

In realisation of this opportunity, the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) has been establishing sunflower clusters throughout Botswana over the last few years.

This was in line with the SEZA Act No. 13 of 2015 which requires the Authority to cluster enterprises to achieve mutually beneficial inter-sectoral linkages and economies of agglomeration.

According to the CEO of SEZA, Lonely Mogara, the formation of sunflower farming clusters was meant to ascertain demand on the one hand and ensure sustainable and continuous supply on the other.

“Ramping up sunflower production in clusters will resolve the current shortage and enable farmers to participate in the processing of sunflower seed and its by-products,” said Mogara.

Additionally, the sunflower oil production project will present supply chain opportunities in transport and provision of extension services like soil testing, pest control and logistics. Beyond processing, local businesses can benefit from opportunities in packaging, marketing and transporting of finished products to market.

“This is in line with the Government of Botswana’s commitment to developing value chains,” Mogara noted.

“This project will create employment, further reduce the import bill and improve the country’s food security. We will make sure that this project enhances agricultural productivity among local farmers and alleviates poverty.”

Value chain development in the sunflower project will further improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and ultimately contribute to economic growth.