FRANCISTOWN: The chairperson of Tonota, Tutume and Masunga (TOTUMA) Commercial Farmers Association, Jan Erasmus has said that the future looks bleak for farmers after enduring continuous drought leading to cancellation of the annual field day.
Earlier this year, a survey released by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) confirmed what many around the country already feared – the poor rains in the first half of the season and the inconsistency in the second half driving away farmers from the fields, blighting crops and leaving livestock teetering on the brink.Erasmus told this publication that this year they are facing severe drought, which led to the cancellation of their annual field day, which was planned for next week.
He said that in substitution of the field day the association is going to embark on a district tour in which they are going to assess their members’ fields.
He added that they are also going to look at the challenges encountered by farmers during this ploughing season and come up with ways to ready themselves for the next ploughing season.
Erasmus indicated that during the tour they are going to come up with initiatives of preparing for drought and how to overcome it.
He said that there is unreliable rainfall and extreme heat, which has destroyed some of their crops in different regions covered by their association.
He said that a majority of commercial farmers believe in modern technology, which engages in the use of fertilisers to increase production.
“Some farmers ploughed and applied fertilisers and due to lack of rain the plants died,” he said.
Erasmus said that farmers find themselves in difficult positions as a result of drought and the situation has left some of the farm workers jobless.
He stated that he ploughed 10 hectares of pearl millet (lebelebele) and lablab in his farm in Tonota and rented 23 hectares from other farms in the vicinity for production.
He said that he has yielded zero results from 33 hectares.
Another farmer from Mowana village and former TOTUMA chairperson, Priscilla Monthe said that she also ploughed 5.3 hectares of pearl millet, which is resistant to drought.
She said that they received minimal rainfall in the area, but managed to sustain the crops.
She said that they would be harvesting the remaining crops next week right after the district tour organised by the association.
The chairperson of Tutume region under TOTUMA, Bokani Moalosi lamented that farmers have nothing to harvest this year.
Moalosi ploughed 20 hectares of pearl millet and three hectares of groundnuts and jumbo beans, but she is going to harvest nothing due to unreliable rainfall and the hot weather.