SELEBI-PHIKWE: The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Agribusiness unit has observed an increase in the issuance of livestock buyers' licences, as some ex-miners explore opportunities to earn a living.
Before the closure of the BCL Mine, the issuance of those licences used to be low, but the ministry has so far issued over 200 of the licences in the Central District that covers Mmadinare, Selebi-Phikwe and Bobirwa.
The licence owners, known as millers, buy livestock and supply butcheries. Ministry official, Golaotsemang Morena said they have also observed an increase in the number of licences for vegetable imports as the trend shows that men are now exploring the opportunity.
Morena, who was speaking during a workshop organised by Botshabelo South Development Committee last Friday, said there are a lot of opportunities in the agricultural sector that the community can explore and cited that there is so far only one farmer in the whole district who is into orange farming in Molalatau.
He has planted 700 orange trees. Morena said they enhance and support such businesses to grow by closing borders to enable them to supply the local market and cited that currently they have closed borders so that farmers in Gantsi supply potatoes locally.
He added that the government fully supports the local agricultural business and would ensure that once food security is guaranteed by local farmers, importation of products would stop. He therefore implored the community to explore opportunities available and for them to ensure that they produce quality and market value products. “We must always focus on turning agriculture into business,” he said.
National Agro Processing Plant (NAPRO) chief executive officer, Ramogoma Kaisara encouraged Selebi-Phikwe residents to take advantage of the favourable weather and SPEDU initiatives such as the Motloutse Farm Electrification Project to venture into commercial farming and for them to form syndicates
He said it would be through farmers’ efforts that government toughens laws and controls exports of raw materials so that factories could be set up locally to process products like Phane and Morula.
“It is possible, but if farmers do not demonstrate some level of commitment, then nothing would compel government to enforce tough laws to stop exportation of such products,” he said. He also advised farmers to always cast their nets wide and explore opportunities in international markets.
He emphasised the need to set up factories to process products further, instead of exporting raw materials and said this would ensure employment creation from big industries that would have been set up.
Kaisara said horticulture is the way to go with the support of SPEDU and NAPRO providing the market to curb post harvest losses that farmers fear to incur.
“Agro processing is important because it provides solutions for those products that do not meet market standards. It is therefore important that you buy NAPRO products so that the plant can continue buying more from farmers,” he added.
Participants complained that their efforts are often thwarted by lack of funding from institutions like the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development who always rejected their applications for funding. They said this demoralises them to explore available opportunities and that the fact that all programmes are tailored for youth would leave the elderly in abject poverty.
They were, however, advised to ensure that they do proper research and proposals. The workshop was held under the theme ‘Weaving A Foundation For A Prosperous Phikwe’.