The agricultural sector contributes to only 2.4% to Botswana’s GDP, with a small fraction coming from horticulture. Of this, only 3% of tomatoes in Botswana are produced locally, while the rest is imported. This is an opportunity Otshepeng Mmopi desires to tap into.
Hailing from Tsootsha, Ghanzi district, Otshepeng grew up with a culture of holistic farming. Her childhood memories are characterized by trips to the cattle post, harvesting corn and watermelon in her home. Furthermore, her father had a knack for business, he owned trucks, two general dealers and working as a bricklayer, Otshepeng learnt the art of hard work and multi-tasking through him. Although she had learnt these traits growing up, she tapped into the white collar industries and earned a degree in accounting from the University of Namibia.
After graduating, she returned to Gaborone and worked in Grant Thornton but still had the knack of farming looming in the back of her mind. Shortly after ending ties with the accounting industry, Otshepeng tried penetrating the horticulture business in Oodi, but her farm business didn’t do well. This happened due to what she describes as a lack of knowledge. In 2016, Otshepeng applied to the Local Entreprize Authority (LEA) 9 month training program. Through LEA, she learnt hydroponic farming methods particularly cultivating tomatoes.
Today, she is farming on a subsistence level and is looking for a plot in Lentswelatau to commercialize her business. Additionally, she is developing her business plan to prove commercial viability of the business to scale her product, increase quality of her tomatoes and seize the opportunity of an excessive demand of vegetable produce in the country. Looking at the small contribution to GDP that agriculture has, Otshepeng aims to use non-extractive, green technology to harvest tomatoes and leafy vegetables to not only empower herself as a business woman, but additionally open long term sustainable jobs for Batswana while satisfying the national market.