1 November 2017

Botswana: Utilise Land Effectively - Autlwetse

Pandamatenga — Residents of Pandamatenga have been advised to fully utilise their ploughing fields to sustain households and improve food security in the country.

The Assistant Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Kgotla Autlwetse said this in a kgotla meeting at Pandamatenga recently.

The meeting followed a decision by government to allocate 458 hectares of land designated for farming to the community.

He said Pandamatenga area was highly suitable for arable agriculture and government believed that a fully productive land could help reduce the country's reliance on agricultural imports.

"This area is commonly known for arable farming due to fertile soils, and we are concerned about underutilisation of such a chunk of land.

I urge you all to plough your fields or rent it out to people who have passion in agricultural activities," he said.

Mr Autlwetse appreciated that crop production was not performing up to optimum levels, citing shortage of maize and sorghum, which forced government to import the grain.

He said government spent over P7 billion on importing goods and pleaded with residents not to keep the land, but rather utilise it.

The country, he said needed 320 metric tonnes of maize and yet they could not produce it despite having fertile land, which surveys had indicated that it could produce enough food, he said.

In addition, the assistant minister said some people who had no interest in farming owned land and wished government could include a clause in the Tribal Act that states that farming land that stays unused for two years be allocated to people passionate about farming in an effort to improve food security.

The assistant minister revealed that farming was not an easy work, as it needed commitment, perseverance and patience.

He said he was optimistic that farmers in Pandamatenga would do their best in filling the country's food basket.

He said others could utilise their land to venture into dairy farming or horticulture, noting that the country experienced shortage of milk.

Mr Autlwetse informed them that it had been reported that all countries should increase their harvest by 60 per cent and encouraged residents to work hard.

For their part, residents thanked government for allocating them the land and wished the necessary processes could be done on time so that they could map the way forward.

One resident, Mr Edgar Moyo said the land needed de-bushing. He appreciated that the allocated area had drainage and access roads.

Mr Joseph Nkwane concurred with the assistant minister that not all of them were farmers and wished those owning the land to rent it so that they reap something.

The area MP, Mr Machana Shamukuni thanked government for the generous support towards Pandamatenga community.

He said land was a sensitive issue, which needed to be handled with care, adding that at times it could divide villagers.

He wished in future government could consider allocating more farms to the community to venture into more income-generating projects.

He said the village was hard hit by poverty despite the fact that the area was known for arable farming. BOPA

Source : BOPA

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