The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security has warned the public about scams that purport to have won a tender with the ministry through the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) unit as suppliers.
ISPAAD project officer, Keolemoge Malema told Mmegi in an interview that so far a number of small businesses have fallen prey to the fraudsters.
He said the fraudsters who have been running their fake advert on Facebook claimed to have won a tender to supply fertilisers, chemicals, seeds and lime for the current ploughing season.
Malema also said the fake adverts have been running since January this year and recently the Ministry has been receiving reports and phone calls from members of the public asking about the said tender.
“One of the victim who reported to us lost P950 to fraudsters who claimed to be processing certificates that entrepreneurs could use to trade in the supply of seeds. I had pleaded with the victim to go and report the matter to the police and come back. But he has not yet contacted me,” he said.
Malema further stated that he suspects that a number of Batswana might have fallen prey to the fraudsters and are still hopeful to be assisted as promised. With similar modus operandi, Malema said some fraudsters also claimed to have won a tender on livestock feed subsidy. He stated that they (fraudsters) claimed to be looking for small companies to engage them in similar manner.
“One of the victims, a Maun based entrepreneur the fraudsters had requested to contract his truck claiming to have won a tender to supply seeds through ISPAAD programme.
They told him they would be transporting the seeds from Pretoria, South Africa to Botswana. He came all the way from Maun to meet them at a certain office not far from the bus station to sign the agreement,” he said.
He stated that afterwards the victim handed to them the truck at Palapye but they contacted him within a short period of time claiming
“That is when the victim had suspicisions and contacted the ministry for clarity only to find out that he was dealing with fraudsters. We are yet to locate the allege office where they meet in an effort to locate the fraudsters,” Malema said.
Malema pleaded with members of the public to always try by all means to establish the authenticity of the alleged adverts. He said their only means of advertising their tenders is through the media, government gazette and their official Facebook page.
“We suspect that majority of Batswana might have fallen prey to the fraudsters and hopeful that after seeing our press release on the matter they will come forward and report,” Malema said.
Meanwhile a press release signed by the ministry’s Chief Agricultural Information and Public Relations Officer, Boikhutso Rabasha said the Department of Crop Production would like to state that there was no tender which was awarded to any company during the current season 2019/2020.
The press release further stated “Department would like to state that farmers were issued coupons (seed voucher) to procure inputs such as fertilisers, lime, seeds and chemicals from participating outlets, that have followed due processes of registration with the Office of Registrar, Plant Protection at Sebele.
The statement informed the public ‘’that Agrochemical license can only be obtained from Plant Protection and it does not require an agent for one to have it. Therefore anybody/company that claim to have won such tender is cheating the public. So far reports have been received from Gaborone about a company that purports to be operating from Main Mall, while the other one claims to have residential address at Broadhurst Industrial. Already some members of the public have fallen victims to these scams,” read the release.