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Lobatse Unmilked – Some Snap Shots

Jan Oosthuizen, Owner of Sunnyside Farm: Is shutting it down, the biggest dairy in the country.

Has applied through the tender system to the Manyana, Sedibeng, Kanye and Mathethe Land Boards and was told that milk is not a priority in Botswana. Nevertheless the government’s Economic Diversification Drive strategy identified dairy as a priority sector. Forty employees have been laid off. 519 dairy farming students have been trained. Was producing 7,000 litres of milk every day but due to feed shortages had to cut down to 3-4 thousand litres a day. The President has come several occasions emphasising the need to develop the dairy sector but nothing was forthcoming. Have written 10 letters outlining his  plight to the different departments within the Ministry of Agriculture. There was no response. In September 2012 Vice President Kedikilwe toured the farm. He promised that all these problems will be sorted out. Nothing happened. Now he has 300 to 400 baboons coming every day to eat his cow feed. The Department of Wildlife told him that they didn’t have vehicles to attend to his problems. Now he is slaughtering the cows  because he cannot let them die from hunger.  (Sunday Standard 20.12.2013)

P. Matibe. Milk Africa CEO (1): The company had leased 2,500 hectares of land in the Barolong, Ramatlabama and Good Hope area for fodder production. The country would need about four farms of the same magnitude. They have employed 25 permanent and pensionable employees.  (Daily News 17.11.16)

and (2) Allegedly, the company’s founder, had little or no money to invest in the project, but planned to get loans from the local bank using the leased land as security. (Weekend Post 14.11. 2105)

Mayor Malebogo Kruger (1): Lobatse had long awaited the project to start and could not now contain her happiness. She thanked the investor company for exercising patience. (Daily News 1. 6. 2015) and (2) The Lobatse town council and Milk Afric partnership started on January 2013 as a Public Private Partnership (PPP), facilitated by BEDIA and the Embassy in United States of America. A Memorandum of Agreement had been signed in 2013 by which a farm at Boswelatlou ward, measuring 1,375 hectares was made available on a lease of 25 years. LDE has six board members, four from LTC and two from Milk Afric.  (Daily News 12.10.15)

Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe: Milk Africa will employ 250 Batswana, with plans to take 15 of them to the University of Florida in USA to be trained on diary production. He condemned the hostile feeling that foreign investors

would suffocate the existing local diary producers. Government has developed a Dairy Development Strategy with 3 000 hectares of land being set aside for fodder and dairy production. (Daily News 1 6.2015)

Earl Miller, USA Ambassador: Illustrates how USA investors in partnership with Botswana leaders could help diversify the nation’s economy. Commended the pioneers of the project. The cattle industry is a valued part of Botswana’s heritage. The success of Milk Afric is part of a broader trend of U.S - Botswana strengthening trade. (Daily News 1.6. 2015)

Mr Sadique Kebonang MP and Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry: the project is on the right track. Lobatse Town Council officials have gone to Kimberly to see the dairy cattle which have been bought for this project. They have sent people to school to facilitate production of milk at European standards (Monitor 15.8.2016)

Tshekedi Khama, Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism: Had refused to give the project an EIA. He was not convinced by the pitch made by the Council and the Zimbabwean investor. (Weekend Post 12-18. 11. 2016)

Nehemiah Modubule, former Member of Parliament for Lobatse: Never believed in the project from the start. Some farmers, especially white farmers, were complaining about the Milk Africa project, but were told that the council is doing appraisable job. Since this man (Matibe) is a refugee on transit, was it wise to invest this much on this project?

Councillor Molaodi Mantle, Member of the Milk Africa Board: He and Mayor Kruger had recently travelled to Kimberly, South Africa where they saw the 580 cows, but did not know whether they have been bought or not. Matibe is the one who can answer all the questions.

Lobatse Town Council Clerk Boikhutso Matenge: Responding to the DCEC’s queries, stated that they do not have the names of those who were nominated to study dairy farming in USA.  They only have their pictures taken during their send off ceremony. Milk Afric did not share the details with the council.

The Ministry of Agriculture should have known the contract and conditions as five of the students were their employees. Monthly lease payments of P8, 333 were due on the 1st February  but the company is in arrears. (The Telegraph 16.11.16)

Charles Tafa, contractor: The whole project is misguided, everything is so confused. The workers have abandoned the premises, the Council always washes its hands from the debt. (Weekend Post 12-18. 11. 2016)

Etcetera II



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