The Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia has admitted that the agricultural support scheme, ISPAAD failed to achieve its goals, as the investment does not match the return due to its apparent abuse.
He said that the loopholes within the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) that created room for corruption led to the programme failing to realise its expected benefits, as economic principles were not considered.
“Input suppliers and tractor owners have been benefiting from the ISPAAD programme instead of the farmers as a result of misdirected subsidy. Note that any wholesale product can be subjected to a degree of misuse,” he said.
For the past five years government has injected about P1.5 billion into the ISPAAD programme that was introduced about 10 years ago when President Ian Khama took over.
“People register, distribute to people who are not aware or not existent under the programme for provision of fertilisers. Fertilisers are being sold as the people think it is not paid for, but someone is paying for it. There are some contaminated individuals who want to contaminate the system and unfortunately the ministry is losing millions to this scam,” Ralotsia said.
The minister noted that they are investigating some individuals who have corrupted the system and assured that the ministry is working around the clock to ensure the sustainability of the programme and that it meets its mandate. He said that they are reviewing the programme and would be making necessary adjustments where possible.
BusinessWeek has also gathered that there are poor monitoring mechanisms put in place to appease voters, which affects the mandate of the programme.
However, the minister said that ISPAAD has the potential to contribute to food sustainability highlighting that its production has increased over the years as farmers continue to benefit from the use of fertilisers, quality seeds and adopted farming techniques.
In 2012, the ministry conducted a study that suggested that ISPAAD as an agricultural programme has generated sub-economical returns on investment by then, but would in the long term be unsustainable. The study suggested that if re-designed, ISPAAD has the potential to effectively support agricultural and rural development including aspirations of female-headed households thus helping to eradicate poverty.
The study, which was conducted by BCA Consult (Pty) Ltd aimed at coming up with solutions that could help achieve food sustainability and was held under the theme ‘Support to smallholder arable farmers in Botswana: Agricultural development or social protection’.