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Farmers see hope after tough year

GOITSEMODIMO KAELO
Eyes to the skies: Farmers can expect good rains this year
Amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) gloom, the Department of Meteorological Services (DMS) recently announced some good news; rainfall will be above normal this season. Mmegi Correspondent, GOITSEMODIMO KAELO looks at what the news means to local farmers

According to the DMS, this season will be wetter than the last one, which government recently announced millions of pula in drought relief to certain farmers for.

The DMS also predicts that the southwest will start off moderately dry and then become progressively get wet as the season moves on. The eastern parts will receive the first rains, before the blessings move to other areas.

The news comes as a relief for the farmers who have been facing tough times due to the lockdown in place across the country and also the losses they suffered during the year.

Ordinarily, the news of good rains brings cheers to the farmers.

Johnson Ntshimane Maseng, while he is concerned about the unpredictability of the skies, says the news is a welcome development, especially after a trying year.

“The news is comforting and nice to hear. However, we all know that farming under these climatic conditions is a gamble. Last season wasn’t bad either, so to hear that this year we will also receive good rains, we have to be grateful,” he says.

Maseng, who is the Vice Chairperson of Goodhope District Crop Farmers Association, says often times farmers plough without knowledge of what the country needs. This, he explains, has not helped the country meet its target of self-sufficiency because there is a lot of the same product in the market.

Maseng says, like many any other businesses, farmers were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were affected by COVID-19 but it was not that bad. It was difficult for most farmers to check their fields due to the lockdown. Some of us had to relocate to the fields during the lockdown to harvest. Unfortunately, we couldn’t sell as the market was affected

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by the lockdown,” he adds.

Maseng ploughs 50-70 hectares annually.

At Gakutlo in Kweneng District, 55-year-old Kganetso Seipati says this is the only positive news in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He says this is a sign that God will never forsake his people, as the rains will be good for farming.

“God knows that his people are reliant on the land and soil for survival. While man battles the disease, the animals of this land should have something to feed on. We can’t be grateful enough. The world will also heal soon,” says Seipati.

For him, farming has been his only source of livelihood and he has depended on rainfall for many years. He says while the low rains have over the years pushed most farmers against the wall, he has always remained resolute and tenacious.

Another farmer, Jan Erasmus, says they were adversely hit by drought last year. Speaking on behalf of TUTUMA (Tonota, Tutume and Masunga) Arable Farmers Association, Erasmus says while they appreciate that the country will have better rainfall this year, he is still worried about the situation of those still reeling from the last drought.

“We appreciate the 20% subsidy, but we are wondering how we are going to prepare for the next ploughing season. The situation is bad, especially for those who did not take loans and used their money and invested in farming. We did not harvest anything and our livestock is dying out there, it is just bad.”  

With about 90% of Batswana farmers dependent on rainfall, good rains have always stimulated good agricultural activities in the country.

There is a prospect of a bumper harvest, which ultimately has a huge impact on the life of the ordinary Motswana.



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