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Bumper harvest forecast, but farmers count losses

The past seasons were afflicted by successive droughts
Agricultural authorities say the country is projected to produce an overall bumper harvest for the 2016/17 season, even though millions of pula were also lost during the period due to hail storms, floods and crop diseases.

Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security permanent secretary, Boipelelo Khumomatlhare told Mmegi following a presentation to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday that despite the natural disasters, a bumper harvest is anticipated from most crops, except maize.

He said cereals such as sorghum and millet, cowpeas and other crops are expected to have high yields, while maize will be low. South Africa is expecting its highest cereal production in 40 years, while other neighbouring countries are equally expecting strong harvests.

Khumomatlhare said losses were incurred due to floods and crop diseases such as the leaf miner Tuta absoluta and army worm. He told the PAC that 5.2 hectares (or 165 tonnes of yield) were affected by hailstorm, with the losses translating to approximately P659,800.

Floods meanwhile, which occurred mainly as a result of Cyclone Dineo, swept away 568 tonnes of produce from

26 hectares resulting in losses of P4.5 million. The leaf miner, meanwhile, affected 558 hectares or 1,554 tonnes of produce worth P11.9 million.

“In total, the losses amounted to P17,076,800 or 2,286 tonnes (590 hectares). But despite this, we expect a bumper harvest overall. However, maize will not do well,” he said.

The accounting officer said the outbreak of crop diseases had forced government to suspend importation of some horticultural produce such as potatoes, tomatoes and pepper. He said officers were placed at borders to inspect and monitor so that none of the banned products entered the country, an intervention, which he said, was successful as they managed to eradicate those diseases.

“I must say that we are happy that Batswana complied with the restrictions. It helped us to eradicate those diseases before too much harm was done,” he said.




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