Mookane — Mookane farmers have been urged to join hands with government in the fight against measles.
Speaking at the commissioning of a community borehole on August 4, deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Dr John Moreki said measles was the greatest challenge for the beef industry.
Dr Moreki said measles was of great concern for government and appealed to farmers to dispose human waste accordingly.
In an effort to fight the disease, Dr Moreki said government had developed a strategy that would be launched on August 16 at Dibete.
In comparison with bordering countries, Dr Moreki said Botswana was the most affected by measles and advised the farming community to do the right thing and provide rest rooms at production areas.
As a result of measles, Dr Moreki said the investment by farmers on their cattle would go to waste as they would be condemned by Botswana Meat Commission. "Measles affects the value of our cattle," he added.
Dr Moreki noted that during the dry season, cattle fed on anything that they laid their tongues on, including human waste. "Let us provide toilets at agricultural production areas," he said.
Dr Moreki also informed the clustered farmers at Mookane that government was committed to providing an enabling environment for farmers to increase production.
He said through schemes such as ISPAAD farmers were encouraged to engage in cluster projects and that fencing material, electricity and water would be provided as a way of encouraging them to produce food. He said improving access to production areas by improving road networks would also be considered by government.
In relation to the commissioning of Rra Khumalo borehole that was equipped by councillor Thebe Setlalekgosi, Dr Moreki said the Setlalekgosi family has augmented government efforts by providing water to the farming community. "As a leader, you have shown compassion and care to the community," he said.
Dr Moreki said the project of cleaning and equipping the borehole exceeded P100 000. Cllr Setlalekgosi has fulfilled his promise to the community, he said urging farmers to take care of the borehole so that they would be able to increase their produce.
Since the clustered land was not fully utilised, Dr Moreki advised the farmers that where possible they should consider leasing part of their land to potential investors. He said the move would not only assist in developing the land, but also generate income for farmers. Utilise the clustered land, produce enough food and export to other countries, he said.
"Government is committed to providing farmers with water for agricultural purposes and developing farms. We want full utilisation of our land, we cannot continue depending on other nations to feed our people," he added. Dr Moreki said committing to agriculture, Mookane cluster farmers would grow and be at par with those at Mosisedi and Pandamatenga.
He also applauded the Mookane cluster farmers for dedicating their time to food production. He said for some people, agriculture was viewed as time consuming and dirty. He, however, added that government was concerned by billions spent on importing food.
Dr Moreki emphasised the need to utilise government programmes such as ISPAAD and LIMID to increase food production, cut on imported food and focus on increased exports.
He explained that in terms of livestock numbers and vegetable production, the Central District was at the forefront, adding that the district takes about 60 per cent in terms of vegetable production. He urged Mookane cluster crop farmers that they should diverse and consider vegetable production.
He also added that horticulture and vegetable production were cost-effective while on the other hand creating employment opportunities. Dr Moreki also advised the farmers to consider specialised and improved farming methods to improve food production.
He said advanced technology in weather forecast would assist farmers in preparing for any anticipated weather challenges affecting food production.
Meanwhile, Councillor Setlalekgosi said the project of equipping the community borehole started in 2014. "My focus is on reviving the agricultural sector," he said, adding that shortage of water was one of the greatest challenges to farmers.
"I believe such a development will encourage young people to venture into agriculture," he said adding that the project was made possible by the support of family and some members of the community.
He appealed to government to make a special dispensation and assist Mookane farmers in clearing part of the clustered land which was currently not utilised.
Mr Setlalekgosi said in the 1980s, the Mookane cluster was among the largest in terms of food production following after Pandamatenga and Borolong. He said providing water, developing roads and connecting power would encourage farmers to work hard and produce more.
Chief technical officer from the Department of Crop Production, Mr Oaitse Keikitse said the Mookane cluster with 11 143 hectares was the largest in the Central District.
However, he said the clustered land was not fully utilised. He noted that of the cleared 3 609 hectares, 2 082 hectares were utilised. Only 1 136 were cultivated in the previous ploughing season producing 365 metric tonnes, he said.
With one of the three boreholes in the cluster equipped, Mr Keikitse was hopeful that farmers would be inspired to improve production and diversify their farming activities.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>