The acting Minister of Agriculture, Mr Patrick Ralotsia has told farmers in Pandamatenga that if they get enough rains, they will have to feed the rest of Botswana, especially the southern part.
Speaking at a meeting with farmers in Pandamatenga , the minister said the southern part of Botswana experienced very little rain and as such may not produce anything.
“What I saw in your farms is not excellent but there is hope if we get rains,” he said after touring some of the farms.
He noted that not enough was being produced to feed the nation and more was lost to after-harvest waste, which he said stands at 30 per cent.
Mr Ralotsia said that agriculture has what it takes to create employment for Batswana, adding that the country needed to transform agriculture to factories.
“We have 17 000 people who qualify for employment, but they are not employed,” he said, adding that he has a g conviction that agriculture can reduce these figures.
He appreciated progress of the upgrading of the agricultural infrastructure project, but emphasized that not only should the project be delivered within the specified timelines and budget, but it must also be of good quality.
“Quality must be guaranteed even after the contractor is gone. We will not tolerate shoddy jobs,” he said.
For their part, some farmers complained about the agricultural infrastructure upgrading project, saying that the project was draining water on to their farms and destroying their crops.
One farmer, Mr Simon Nsengwa complained of late payments to tractor owners who had to use their expenses to plough for others.
Another farmer, Mr Tienie Kruger thanked government for the investments, time and effort in upgrading the internal roads and drainage.
“It was money well invested as long as climate change does not hit us with droughts,” he said.
Another farmer, Mr Tshenyo Solomon warned that government was losing a lot of fertilizers and seeds as some farmers just kept them in their yards without using them.
He also warned of Quelea birds, which pose a threat to farmers’ produce.
In response to some of the issues raised, one of the steering committee members on the agricultural infrastructure project, Mr Edgar Moyo said that they had received complaints from two farmers, who said their farms were being affected by drainage water.
We are still to decide whether the affected farmers should be allocated new land or not,” he said.
Concerning the wasted seeds and fertilizers, he said the ministry will collect all the seeds and fertilizers that have not been used.
Source : BOPA
Source : Botswana Daily News