Pandamatenga — President Mokgweetsi Masisi has enumerated initiatives government is undertaking to facilitate food production by Pandamatenga commercial farmers.
Speaking during Pandamatenga Commercial Farmers Association harvest day on August 2, the President said government had decided to establish Pandamantenga as a center for commercial arable agriculture which had the potential to feed the country and eliminate abject poverty.
Pandamatenga, he said, had been earmarked as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for horticulture and agro-industry in recognition of the good fertile soil and average good rains in the area.
The President said in view of the limited agricultural land in the Chobe District, government would release more land for both subsistence and commercial farming.
"As you all know, the Chobe District is classified as a tourism and farming center. This move is meant to diversify the economy of the country to undoubtedly contribute to job creation," he said.
He said the area was the highest producer of grain in the whole country although this season's unfriendly weather conditions had negatively affected farmers.
"Even though the targeted 45 000 hectors of ploughing was reached in the district, less yield will be realised due to the prevailing weather conditions and pests," he said.
President Masisi said another major initiative in further developing Pandamatenga Farms was the undertaking of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project by government dubbed Agro-Zambezi irrigation project which entailed reticulation of water to the farms to provide an enabling environment for increased agricultural production.
He commended the association for the skills and knowledge that they continued to share with local subsistence farmers.
Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Patrick Ralotsia commended the farmers for the event describing it as an important platform for farmers and stakeholders to showcase new farming technologies and techniques, identify market for the product, share experiences, achievements, challenges and possible solutions.
He assured farmers of his ministry's commitment to supporting the agricultural sector and ensuring the environment was conducive for production.
"Due to budgetary constraints, my ministry is committing to a phased provision of essential services and portable water among others," said Mr Ralotsia.
He said the ministry was even ready to upgrade existing fire breaks on access roads in farming areas.
Giving a vote of thanks, the area MP, Mr Machana Shamukuni decried late payment of farmers by the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) as which affected the next ploughing season.
He however commended Minister Ralotsia for coming on board to help address the challenges.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>