Gov’t unveils tighter ISPAAD support

Helping hand: Since 2008, billions of pula have been spent under ISPAAD providing inputs to subsistence farmers PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Helping hand: Since 2008, billions of pula have been spent under ISPAAD providing inputs to subsistence farmers PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security anticipates rolling out the new output-based Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) during the 2022-2023 cropping season, BusinessWeek has established.

Agricultural minister Karabo Gare recently told parliamentarians that government will administer ISPAAD for the last time in this current ploughing season 2021-2022 with the same guidelines and controls.

The next season will be guided by a new transformative programme that has been developed to enhance agricultural productivity and output growth as well as promote inclusive agricultural production.

He said even though the new programme is ready to be implemented, it will not be feasible in this coming ploughing season as it might cause confusion and frustrations amongst farmers and input suppliers, as they will have to learn and implement the new programme at the same time.

“The ploughing season is starting in October and farmers have not been informed about the programme,” Gare said. “We need more time to communicate the new programme before implementing it for proper buy-in and understanding of the new parameters for the programme.”

The new programme will enhance the promotion of investment in crop production, promotion of agro-ecological production, promote agro-tourism, as well as increase the yield of selected crops through the introduction of output-based encashment, introduction of insurance cover, seasonal guarantee loans as well as robust promotion of climate-smart agriculture.

“During the transition period, some components will be put on hold including individual, group and cluster fencing of arable farming areas for which payment has not been made, provision of potable water at arable farming clusters while open-pollinated variety seeds for maize, millet and sorghum will be obtained through extension offices across the country. “The rest of the seeds will be sourced through the coupon system, which will be obtainable from extension officers across the country,” he said.

ISPAAD is the main agricultural inputs programme introduced in 2008 to support communal farmers. Each season, ISPAAD provides farmers with various inputs such as seeds, tillage services, fertilisers, herbicides and others in the interests of increasing grain production and promoting food security at household and national level.

Since its inception, the government has spent upwards of P600 million each year on ISPAAD in the interests of increasing grain production, promoting food security at household and national level and supporting the rural economy.

However, Gare said over the years the programme had not reaped any dividends for the investment as government usually receives outputs averaging 47% of investment. He added that the food security situation in the country had also not improved as low productivity and high import bill remain a challenge.

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