As drought continues to take a devastating toll on Botswana, government yesterday announced another increase on livestock feed subsidy from 25 percent to 50 percent to further cushion farmers.
The relief effects immediately until end of March next year.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), this was approved under the drought package, which includes the following products- di-calcium phosphate, drought pellets, bran, course salt, sorghum stalk bales, maize and dairy meal among others. The announcement follows President Ian Khama’s June declaration that the whole country is drought-stricken and that relief measures will be implemented from period July 2015-June 2016. Permanent secretary at MoA, Boipolelo Khumomatlhare, said that the initial drought intervention still stands.
The subsidised feed will be sold through the Livestock Advisory Centres (LACs) and the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) depots.
Incidents of drought are forecast to increase in frequency and severity as the effects of climate change deepens. This revelation is contained in Botswana’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted ahead of the UN climate change meeting, Conference of the Parties (COP21) that started last Monday in France.
In preparation for the ongoing Paris meet, countries agreed to publicly outline their post 2020 climate actions under a new international agreement, known as INDCs.
The forecast is a blow to the country as Botswana is already witnessing impacts of climate change with constrained agricultural production, increasing food insecurity and increasing water stress, which will worsen with time, as projected. The communication says droughts in terms of rainfall deficits are most common in northern Botswana while extreme droughts based on low rainfall and soil conditions are most common in southwestern Botswana. Moreover, high rainfall events with risks of floods are most likely in north- eastern Botswana where several large dams are located.
Speaking at the opening of the COP21 summit Monday, in Paris, President Ian Khama decried the far-reaching consequences and said it should be given the urgent attention it deserves. “Botswana like many countries has not been spared by climate change and we continue to incur considerable costs in addressing challenges of both environmental and economic nature,” “Due to such effects, rainfall has significantly reduced and we are currently suffering a prolonged drought. As a result, the reservoirs providing our capital city with water have all dried up and water is now supplied through a pipeline from other parts of the country.” Khama said.
He added climate change has affected vegetation and pastures resulting in significant declines in livestock and arable agricultural production. “Beef exports are our third highest foreign income earner and about 70 percent of the population is dependent on subsistence farming,”
Khama rebuked developed economies for failure to be climate-friendly in their developmental pursuits. He said developed country parties, over the years through Conference of Parties, have been called upon to provide political leadership in climate change, taking into consideration their historical responsibility.
“We must categorically state that they have failed to take the lead especially in reforming their industrial processes. As a result the world is suffering from the impacts of climate change,” Khama said.
Khama boldly stated that Botswana as Party to the Climate Change Convention, has been consistent and constructive in taking the global negotiations forward. “The country needs a fair, equitable and effective multilateral agreement, which supports our long-term sustainable development pathway.
“We believe that the outcome from Paris must strengthen the rules-based multilateral system,” he stressed.
He reiterated the country’s INDCs position to put forward energy and transport actions which will be undertaken to contribute to reducing global emissions. However, Khama said these are very costly and will cause Botswana to deviate from our normal development path.
“Assistance in both financial resources, technical capacities and clean technologies will be needed to achieve these INDCs,” he said.
In responding to climate change and ensuring sustainability of natural endowments, African countries have adopted the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa Initiative which emanated in 2012 from the first Summit for Sustainability in Africa, held in Gaborone, Khama told the Paris delegates. Ten countries attended the summit, namely: Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania.