‘O le aramele le sa go tlhabetse’ or Make hay while the sun still shines,’ when translated, is an adage which simply motivates or encourages people to take advantage of the available opportunities or resources to get themselves from point A to point B in life. The government of Botswana through the then Ministry of Agriculture in 2008 introduced a support scheme or program for farmers known as the Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD) to try address challenges facing arable farmers in the country.
Some of the components of the program include but not limited to; the provision of draught power, potable water, seeds, fertilizers and herbicides. Although the program was seen as a welcome development by most people especially by farmers themselves, it is unfortunate to say however, that over the years there have been concerns especially from the government about the behaviour of some farmers who seem not to be taking the program seriously. The concerns have been aired across in numerous occasions that some farmers do not take good care of their plants-they do not weed or guard against livestock or birds.
These concerns seem to have pushed the government (too) far. The government through the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security have taken a decision to blacklist such farmers from the program. This came to light at the recently held 4th annual Mookane Farmer’s day. The announcement was made by the Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security Patrick Ralotsia.
Minister Ralotsia said that they have realized that there are some people who consistently have nothing to show for the seeds, fertilizers and herbicides they were given despite a large sum of money having been used by the government to purchase the products. Ralotsia added that it is for this reason that the Crop Production Officers have been given a directive not to disperse seeds and/or fertilizers to farmers who consistently underperform or do not perform at all. He said that in most cases when such farmers are questioned on their underperformance they usually do not give valid reasons.
Meanwhile Ralotsia hinted that a decision is yet to be taken regarding farmers with the same mentality under the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) scheme.
On other issues pertaining to the same farmer’s day which was held under the theme ‘CONSERVATIONAL FARMING AND FODDER PRODUCTION’ Ralotsia said that with the current unfavourable farming conditions conservation farming and fodder production are a must for farmers. He said that for farmers to get good value for their animals from Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) it is only when their animals are in good shape.
He however cautioned famers against their (farmers) tendency of selling their animals to BMC when they are not pleased with them. He said most farmers like to hold on to their animals when they are in a good condition. According to Ralotsia this is actually the main reason why farmers get low value for their animals at BMC because they only sell them when they are not pleased with them or when they are not in a good shape.
Meanwhile Ralotsia lamented about the way in which some youth view farming. He said that although there are some youths who are doing well in farming there is still a significant of them who still don’t value farming. He further implored them not to despise farming and only opt or settle for white collar jobs. He said times have changes and as such Agriculture is no longer a leisure activity but a business. FMB