MOCHUDI: Cattle farmers in the Kgatleng have disparaged government for introducing a four percent tax on cattle they sell to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).
“This is just a way to kill pastoral farming and at the same time deprive farmers of their hard-earned cash,” one farmer charged.
Sparks flew at a meeting of the Kgatleng Beef Producers Association (KBPA) held at Segale Primary School in Mochudi on Saturday where it was resolved farmers should seek audience with agriculture minister Patrick Ralotsia early next year to demand answers.
KBPA president Christopher Tsopito led the onslaught saying the tax would disempower farmers and weaken pastoral farming.
“The taxation idea will only disempower us because we already have P30 cattle levy. We will be taxed four percent whilst on the other hand BMC will be buying our cattle at staggered prices,” he complained in an address to the farmers.
Tsopito said the tax would disadvantage farmers because input costs continued to go high, thus lessening returns.
“There are cases where you don’t get any profit like the current situation where our expenses are more than our profits,” he added. “The farmers will be taxed on losses.” Tsopito also said the farmers were never consulted.
“It would have worked better if the government had consulted the farmers because there is no one in any country who will oppose government’s initiatives if they had been properly consulted.” he said. Tsopito’s deputy, Samuel Kgwarapi had no kind words for the government as well, blatantly likening govenment to a pick-pocket.
“This is daylight robbery. The new tax would rob the farmer. It’s totally bad. It’s just like being tripped and robbed of your cash by a tsotsi, who would then forcefully search your pockets and yank off your money. We put a lot of effort in pastoral farming here, but this idea will surely bulldoze us.”
One of the farmers, Letlotlo Kopong, also spoke against the new tax. He said the farmers would insist that the minister give them answers. He said the farmers once met BURS officers who did not seem to understand the new tax.
The farmers also said they were not happy with the Kgatleng Land Board (KLB) to implement a new policy of drilling boreholes.
Tsopito said his association wrote three letters to KLB, requesting it to put its new policy on hold, but the Land Board continued to release a shortlist of farmers whose boreholes would be drilled shortly.The Land Board’s new policy is to drill boreholes within the standard six-kilometre radius between boreholes.
Kgatleng farmers disagree, arguing it would result in overgrazing if the Land Board went ahead to allocate and drill boreholes between existing boreholes that are six kilometres apart.
The farmers argued that with more than 2,000 cattle already, Kgatleng’s small geographical area was overstocked. Hence they strongly believed the new policy would further exarcerbate overgrazing.