Floods could destroy crops

Staff Writer
FRANCISTOWN: Although no official assessment has been carried, it is feared that the recent downpours have wrought havoc on crops in the fields. This could have disastrous consequences for the country's efforts to increase food production through the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development Programme (ISPAAD).

In its effort to shore up farmers, government went to the extent of procuring tractors to be used by farmers, and in some instances, hired tractors to plough for those farmers who could not be assisted with government purchased tractors.

The acting district agricultural Officer in Letlhakane, Lucky Ramongalo says although they have not gone to the fields to assess the damage, most people in his area of jurisdiction had not yet finished harvesting.

"The possibility that there could be damage in the fields is very high because people are still harvesting. One of the reasons we have not evaluated the damage is because the rains are still on-going," he said from Letlhakane by phone.

In Marapong, headman Bakani Mampori also expressed his fears that the rains must have done a lot of damage to crops as his people had not yet finished harvesting.

"I may be able to know the extent of the damage at the weekend when I will be able to go about the village checking on the farmers. But there is no doubt that the damage will be considerable.

"It rained so hard some of our mud-built huts are collapsing. So, if the huts are collapsing, what of crops?" he wondered.

In Tutume, an office worker who did not want to be named because the district officer was not in, having

gone to the fields, said when it started raining last week, Tutume recorded 89 millimetres.

Hence, she said, there is a high possibility that the crops, which are still in the fields, are damaged. Even those that have been put in storage or difalana could have been damaged by the rains, she said.

At the beginning of the ploughing season, the Ministry of Agriculture vowed to triple food production, from 30,000 to 90,000 metric tons.

The ministry was expected to spend P181 million under ISPAAD to take Batswana to the ploughing fields.

President Ian Khama, told Batswana, in his state of the nation address, that he intended to diversify the economy through increased food production via implementation of ISPAAD.

And under the ISPAAD, 89,000 farmers were able to plough 274,000 hectares, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture.

In Kgotla meetings he addressed to encourage farmers to go to the fields, assistant Minister of Agriculture, Shaw Kgathi told residents of Sebina and Mathangwane that the programme will help Botswana to be self sufficient in food production if used optimally.

Kgathi said worldwide, food has become more expensive because of high fuel prices and other related factors. The situation worsened the problem of food shortages in Botswana, hence the need for the country to adopt corrective measures that would ensure self-sufficiency in food production.



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