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Pula…

Botswana has enjoyed rains this year like never before.

Like never before??

This is a question everyone can answer differently but to most..yes like never before.

An old man of over 70years said it was his first time to see some streams and rivers flowing in his entire life. The old man from gaNgwaketse said his association with nature has seen him traversing the whole country in search of herbs for his practice as a traditional doctor. He believes he knows all the corners of the country and herbs available in our soils. He knows when to visit which areas in Botswana and which herbs are available according to each season. However, with the current rains, his shock was to see some of the plants he had travelled far emerging so close to his area of residence. Some of the plants he has not seen for decades are suddenly mushrooming before his eyes.

For this old-man the current rains are none like any before.

To our generation the rains are Dineo’s visitation to Botswana. Who is Dineo? A Cyclone that was earlier in the month was destroying lives, infrastructure and property in Mozambique arrived in Botswana having mellowed down and its presence was pours that covered the entire country for days.

When some scientists say global warming has extreme character that can be seen through severe droughts, scorching heat, heavy rains and extreme cold weather due to the affected ozone layer as a result of human causes to the atmosphere, to Batswana the good rains can be attributed to our currency, our 50-year celebrations or the prayers for rain by President Dr Khama on the occasion at our 50-years celebration at the national stadium.

What is most gratifying about the rains was the reception by the farming community not excluding those who wanted to see all the dams filled and overflowing with special emphasis to the Gaborone Dam.

Every Motswana you met was either happy that as a pastoral farmer he is happy with the pasture. Arable farmers though sending mixed reactions about the rains, it was all a good for the sector.

It is however important to note that heavy rains come with their challenges to farmers- arable farmers have to fight herbicides, pesticides and embark on serious processes of top dressing. For pastoral farmers it is time to deal with foot-rot, parasites, pasturella and lumpy-skin. What is most interesting is that farmers are aware of the challenges that come with rains but the question is, “Are we prepared?”

What has also come out loudly is that Batswana are farmers..Farming is occupying almost all households in villages, town and cities. Batswana have heeded the message that the country needs to diversify from other sectors and in calculate farming as one of the most viable activities in economic diversification.

Batswana across all ages, gender and, professions are into farming. This must be seen as a step in the right direction by the government. Batswana with the right assistance, education and mentoring are ready to make the country a bread basket of the region.

The 2017 budget speech which allocated 2.8percent (P1.10 billion) of the national budget to the ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security is a drop in the ocean and not any different to the 1966 budget of $988 000 00 to the same ministry. FMB

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