Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

The impact of HIV and AIDS on food security and agricultural production in Botswana
Prepared for FANRPAN by: K Gobotswang

Executive summary

The study findings are expected to reveal the extent of the impact of HIV and AIDS on agricultural production and how the farmers are affected. This will allow the Ministry of Agriculture to develop effective strategies of dealing with the epidemic in order to minimize the negative effect of HIV and AIDS on food security and agricultural production.


Botswana is among the Southern African countries that are hardest hit by HIVand AIDS.The Botswana AIDS Impact Survey (BAIS) conducted by the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA), Central Statistics (CSO) and other development partners, puts the HIV prevalence among people aged 18 months and above at 17.3 percent (Botswana Daily News, December 24, 2004); the prevalence rate among the sexually active range between 30.5 to 40.7 percent. HIV and AIDS affect the most productive sector of the population. Since the agricultural sector is labor intensive, it is expected that HIV and AIDS could have a negative impact on agricultural productivity.

HIV/AIDS impact on livestock ownership

In rural Botswana livestock ownership is an important household asset. This is because livestock can provide milk, meat, income, and draught power. It was anticipated that affected households would dispose of their animals to meet medical costs and food requirements. As expected, on average, households had 35 livestock before illness. The number of livestock significantly declined to an average of 20 after illness.

The Impact of HIV and AIDS on Crop Production

When HIV and AIDS strike a household, they often trigger a chain of events that include disposing of livestock that is critical for draught power and combined with the loss of an adult, this could have an impact of crop production. On average the non-affected households produced 41 bags of crop while the affected households produced 30 bags during illness. The number of bags produced dropped to eight after the illness and subsequent death.

The Gender Factor in HIV and AIDS

The household type (affected or not affected) and gender of the head of household were the strongest determinants of crop production. Being affected by HIV and AIDS significantly increased the risk of producing no crops while households headed by females were more likely produce a lower yield or none at all.

The Impact of HIV and AIDS on Agricultural Extension

All participants including farmers and agricultural staff (extension and administration) confirmed that HIV and AIDS have affected everybody including the extension workers and their work performance. Respondents reported high absenteeism of extension workers, the reason cited being that the extension workers were either sick or attending to their sick family members.

The Impact of HIV and AIDS on Household Time Allocation and Decision-Making

When household members become sick, there is a noticeable rise in the proportion of activities that are not attended to. Household members' performance of crop activities declines while the use of hired labour increases. As expected, women (wife) dominate weeding and fighting pests more than their male counterparts (husbands).

The household head primarily carries the decision-making on the livestock enterprise. After illness, there is a noticeable increase in instances where no specific member of household makes decisions.

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