As is common world over, the beginning of a year brings with it new hope. It is a chance to start afresh, right any wrongs from the previous year and fulfill some of our dreams.
In the midst of all this new hope that the New Year brings, it may not be the greatest of beginnings the farmer given the poor rainfall received so far. With the meteorological department’s recent rainfall forecast indicating chances are high that the country will continue experiencing consistent dry and hot conditions for the rest of the rainy season. This indeed is disheartening not only for the farmer but for every other Motswana as this means a lot of things to many people. Water which is already a challenge for city dwellers and businesses is bound to become a really critical challenge and high food prices are bound to affect us all considering that even our neighbouring countries from which we import our food are facing the same predicament. Given this scenario and the fact that we import about 80 percent of the food consumed in Botswana it is indeed a blow to our food security goals.
According to one farmer in Pandamatenga, Johan Van Vuuren only five percent of Pandamatenga land arable land was planted by the 15th of January 2016 compared to about 60 percent last season during the same time period. This is paints a gloomy picture indeed
What’s the best thing that the farmer can do? To quote Ralph Ferreira of Agric Fountain agriculture: “…… we live in a free enterprise society where individual actions and thoughts should be driving our management behaviour and not waiting for Government to lead the way.”
Well said Mr. Ferreira. Harsh times like these call for one to think outside the box and take steps that we have never taken before to not only survive but eventually thrive so as not remain victims of circumstance. As we continue to be exposed to the harsh weather elements which we are not accustomed the only choice we have now is to adapt and be innovative as we a have always pointed out in our previous editions. We have no other option as long as we need to eat.
We have to challenge our old ways of thinking when it comes to farming. Farming is no longer what it was decades ago. One such thinking pattern is to attempt to hold on to one’s livestock in the face of the severe drought because one’s sense of self worth is linked to the number of cattle in the kraal. Destocking is a hard thing to do for someone with such a mindset but under such circumstances it is the best way to keep productive animals alive.
So as farmers letters learn from the experiences and go through 2016 much wiser? FMB