SESE: Unscrupolous farmers may be robbing the government of millions of Pula by claiming more than what they should from the Integrated Support Program for Arable Agricultural Development (ISPAAD) programme.
This observation was made by the crop production officer for Sese, Motsumi Motsumi at a farmers meeting on Tuesday. Motsumi said over the years, some farmers have been cheating the government by ploughing more than the stipulated five hectares and then recruit people on the streets to claim the extra ploughing areas as theirs. The officer did not disclose the amount of money that was paid to fraudulent claims. He said the fraud is always unconvered when the agricultural officers go to measure the said field, and the alleged owners of the extra hectares fail to identify the field they have signed for with tractor owners.
“In many cases the youth are used in this fraud, but you must be warned that the crime is punishable by law,” he said. The programme, which started in 2008 was meant to assist farmers by providing free seeds, fertilisers, herbicides and free 5 hectares of ploughing. Motsumi also reminded farmers that the government is spending millions of tax payers’s money on the programme and that they should utilise the programme well and refrain from any criminal activities. Motsumi, however, announced that farmer who did not register for this year’s ploughing season will not be assisted with seeds, fertilisers and pesticides but government will only pay tractor ploughing. “On other new developments, the farmer will have to provide land board certificate and a copy of omang to the tractor operator before ploughing for surerity that indeed he intend to plough,” Motsumi said.
In his remarks, the district crop officer for Ngwaketse West, Moatlhodi Moatlhodi urged parents to advise their children, lest they become victims of such criminal activities. He also mentioned that they are investigating cases where farmers are trading government sponsored seeds and fertilisers in exchange of alcohol. He urged those who registered with the pretence to rob the government, to withdraw fast before the law catches up with them.But farmers also had their complaints against government. One of the farmers Mokgweetsinyana Letlhatshane, expressed disappointment at the fact that government only pays for five hectares. Letlhatshane, who is also a tractor owner, said because of government’s disregard for their business, they are going bankrupt. He said in the past season he made a loss of close to P35 000. Moatlhodi however, noted that Letlhatshane was in a fortunate position since he benefitted as a tractor owner in that he is paid to plough for other farmers, while also getting subsidy of seeds, fertilisers and herbicides from local stores.