The Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Patrick Ralotsia has finally admitted that the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) has failed to achieve its goals.
The country, he says is yet to realise the return on investment as the government continues to pour hundreds of millions of pula in the programme that was introduced in 2008 when President Ian Khama took over. Infact, it is one of the President’s flagship programmes.
It is regrettable that programmes of this nature have failed to produce any fruits yet they had good intentions. This clearly shows that there are poor monitoring mechanisms put in place before a programme can be announced in a Kgotla meeting and ultimately implemented in a hurry to appease voters.
Food security has always been our biggest shortcoming as a nation as we have relied on food imports from neighbouring South Africa for many decades. Food items such as maize, sorghum, and beans are part of our staple food menu, but we are struggling to produce enough harvest to meet national demand.
The most disturbing thing about Ralotsia’s admission is the revelation that there is a lot of corruption taking place in the ISPAAD programme, to a point where one company was found distributing expired manure.
As investigations continue, we urge the Minister to also investigate what expired manure can do to a ploughing field. We have gathered that expired manure can cause irreparable damage to ploughing fields and rendering them useless.
“You will agree with me that the investment doesn’t match the return because of the abuse that is apparent in ISPAAD. We lose millions of pula every year trying to improve food security of this country.”
These words from the Minister clearly show that corruption is now imbedded in our institutions and will take a rocket scientist to remove it. This is because for the last 10 years, there has never been a conviction of a big fish. The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime has diverted all its energy to small offenders who steal little amount whilst those who cause huge damage are hardly chased.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions on the other hand find it difficult to prosecute in the absence of enough evidence. It seems our institutions are okay with corruption! It is going to take us many years to return to normalcy if we can’t deal with this problem now - we have to hold these institutions accountable and they should justify why they are in existence. People have become shockingly greedy and government programmes need strong monitoring lest public health is put at risk.
“Where do the evils like corruption arise from? It comes from the never-ending greed. The fight for corruption-free ethical society will have to be fought against this greed and replace it with ‘what can I give’ spirit.”
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam