Since its inception in 2002, the National Master Plan for Arable Agriculture and Dairy Development (NAMPAAD) has spent P72,560,784.89 on four trial projects which are yet to prove profitable, Parliament heard recently.
P20,140,730.05 was used for infrastructure development while a staggering P52,420,054.84 was disbursed in professional fees.
The four trial production training projects are a rain-fed farm at Ramatlabama, a dairy farm at Sunnyside near Lobatse, and irrigation farms at Glen Valley and Dikabeya.
The Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Shaw Kgathi, said while all the four projects are operational and their production figures are higher than the national average, their profitability is yet to be established.
The Member of Parliament for Chobe, Duncan Mlazie, had asked the minister to say whether the NAMPAAD programme was delivering to the expectations of Government.
Kgathi said NAMPAAD had built capacity for both extension workers and farmers by transferring skills. To-date the programme has trained 348 farmers and 1 026 extension workers. At this stage, the programme was working with 78 farmers - 59 in rain-fed arable farming, nine in dairy farming, and ten in irrigated farming. Kgathi said
"NAMPAAD holds the future of the agricultural sector," the minister said. "In the long-term, NAMPAAD will change the landscape of farming in this country for the better. With time, farming will not only blossom but will be one of the leaders in both economic diversification and general improvement in the standard of living for Batswana." Kgathi reminded the House that the question about the progress of NAMPAAD had been asked several times since 2005, saying adoption of (new) technology took time. He said the primary objective of NAMPAAD was to make agriculture competitive and reduce Botswana's dependence on imports.
Government appointed Tahal Consulting Engineers (TCE) of Israel as coordinators of the NAMPAAD in 2004. The Israeli company was contracted for a period of three years for the project into which the government injected P29 million.