Farmers in the south of the country are in two minds about whether to wait for the rains, or pack up and look for other sources of income. The traditional onset of the rain season came and went in mid-November with the heavens shut over most of the country, the south in particular. Mmegi photojournalist, KENNEDY RAMOKONE toured the fields this week
Our main challenge here is lack of rainfall and heat waves. If the situation continues like this I foresee drought and famine. My main worry is that our land is very fertile but looking at the current situation we are not going to have a good harvest. My plan was to plant early maturing crops but I see this dream dying a natural death. I have actually decided to focus more on small stock farming this season. I urge Agriculture Ministry demonstrators to come and educate farmers about drought farming; maybe different method will produce good results. We used to plough five hectares but due to lack of rainfall and heatwaves, we have decided to reduce this to two and a half hectares. The advice we get from the Department of Meteorological Services is always wrong. They told us the rains were coming but look at the current situation. If the situation doesn’t change, I will have to pack my bags and go back to the village.
For the 48 years I have stayed here, this is one of the worst drought we have ever experienced. Last year around this time we were already done with our fields. The Agriculture demonstrators are very reluctant and we have not received seeds and fertilisers, but I am not going to give up easily. I urge them to come and teach us about drought farming because Botswana is a desert to tell the truth and we farmers seriously need to be educated. I want to plant early maturing seeds because time is not on my side. The ploughing season is very short more especially on the southern part of this country. I want to utilise the first rains; maybe they will work wonders for me. I want to plant maize, sorghum, watermelons, sweet reeds and beans because they do well this side. On livestock, I would
I stay here full time and this season I foresee drought because of the current rainfall situation. We have not received any rain this year, not even a single drop. We have fields but I do not remember the last time we ploughed. Due to lack of water I buy water for my goats and sheep. I have given up on farming because my fields are not fenced so I do not have energy to fence as you can see that I am old. I was born in 1934.
We have not yet received seeds and fertilisers from Agriculture demonstrators, but other than I am waiting for the rain to fall. Once it falls, I am not going to delay and I want to plant early maturing plants that can also withstand against the sun. I am not going to give up. I pray day and night for it to rain. Last season I ploughed only two and a half hectares but surprisingly I managed to harvest 69 bags of maize. My plan is to use hybrid seeds just like I did last season. I urge tractor owners to take farmers seriously because we need them and they also need us for their business to grow. Every now and then I feel we fail because they hire inexperienced drivers.
We are expecting rainfall very soon. The seeds and farming implements are ready but we have to accept that seasons have shifted. I want to thank the Ministry of Agriculture for helping my parents with all seeds under the ISPAAD programme. We pray for rains day and night so that we fully utilise the programme and we are going to wait for it up until the last throw of the dice.