Ministry rejects foreign farmers bail-out request

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The government has rejected a request for a financial bail-out by some foreign farmers at Banyana Farms, Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Mircus Chimbombi has told the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The PS said the government refused to help the struggling farmers to use the farms to source finances elsewhere.Chimbombi was answering a question from Tonota North MP, Fidelis Molao who wanted him to react to reports that foreigners who have leased Banyana Farms are struggling. The MP wanted the PS to reassure the committee that due diligence was followed when the concerned farmers were given the farms.

Chimbombi said due diligence was followed but was at pains trying to explain why some of the farmers sought help from the ministry.  "Banyana Farms is a commercial operation and it was decided to be leased to the private sector which included foreigners.  At the moment, some farmers have established while others have not.  The reasons for not establishing may be attributed to different factors but I can assure that due diligence was followed," he said.  Banyana Farms is a ranch of about 149,000ha near the border with South Africa.  Meanwhile, Chimbombi told the committee that the turnaround strategy for the local beef industry is promising, as the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) has been readmitted to the European market.  However, he regretted that there are still problems because some farmers are refusing to declare whether they have fed their animals with the right stuff.  He said they do not have much resistance from the subsistence farmers but the big ones seem to have problems with the arrangement. Chimbombi said the arrangement is meant to keep records of the animals, which is a market requirement.

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