Ministry Needs Tonnes of Seeds

Minister of Agriculture Mr Patrick Ralotsia has said his ministry will purchase 2 900 tonnes of seeds and 24 404 tonnes of fertilisers for the 2015/16 ploughing season.

Addressing a press conference in Gaborone on Tuesday, July 14, Mr Ralotsia said the Botswana Marketing Board (BAMB) has been given a tender to supply 4 404 tonnes of fertilisers and 100 tonnes of seeds for the 2015/16 ploughing season.

The minister said 20 000 tonnes of fertilisers and 2 800 tonnes of seeds will be procured from private suppliers using the coupon system to give everyone a chance to supply.

He stated that the seeds for Molapo farming are expected to be dispatched to Ngamiland, Chobe and Boteti districts by the end of this month.

On other issues, Mr Ralotsia said this year has been declared a drought one and said it should come as a lesson for the country to prepare itself better for the future.

He said the assistance that has been approved by the government to farmers include, paying 85 percent of the 2014/15 seasonal loans to eligible farmers under the agricultural credit guarantee scheme, which amounts to P103 million, to the National Development Bank and CEDA.

The minister said there will be subsidies of selected stock feeds which include salt, dicalcium phosphate, molasses, bran, lurcein, hay or stover and dairy meal an. He said despite the challenges of drought experienced this year, the government is committed to supporting farmers.

Mr Ralotsia also briefed the media about the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the Parakarungu area, where 13 cases have been confirmed in one kraal.

He said control of animal movement, vaccination and other biosecurity measures have been put in place.

He thanked the media for their support in carrying out stories which are intended to inform Batswana about these out breaks.

He said the outbreak will be controlled as livestock farmers in Chobe are very cooperative with vaccination coverage pegged at around 100 percent.

The minister also revealed that the Botswana Meat Commission is currently experiencing cash flow problems which have resulted in farmers being paid late. He said several factors contribute to the challenges, among them a long cycle associated with the selling of meat.

He said BMC has to buy cattle from farmers and take them to feed lots where they stay for one to three months before slaughter and packaging for sale. He said the process ends up resulting in the commission taking a bit of time to pay farmers.

He however assured that the matter is being addressed.

He said his ministry is doing all it can to alleviate shortage of milk. He said there is currently an investor who has leased Sunnyside farm, and is milking about 94 cows and the project intends to bring in 2 000 cows in two years.

He said another big project in the dairy subsector is also expected to bring in another 2 000 cows with the first batch expected next April.

The project is a joint venture involving MilkAfric, Lobatse Town Council and American Company.

Mr Ralotsia said to support the dairy subsector, his ministry has bought 872 straws of dairy cattle sexed semen from Canada while 699 semen straws were bought by dairy farmers at a cost of P150 per straw.

He said that they are in the process of buying another batch of 1 000 sexed semen straws for use by dairy farmers.

Source : BOPA