Gaborone — Government will use a total of P856 million in different measures adopted to mitigate the effects of arable drought recently declared for the year 2018/19 by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the relief and special assistance for which the funds will be used include the restocking of the strategic grain reserves to augment the 78 per cent estimated cereal deficit and payment of 30 per cent of the seasonal loans to farmers who got loans from Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and National Development Bank (NDB) through the Agriculture Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) to mitigate their losses, which are anticipated to be one third of their total produce.
Further, part of the funds will go towards the payment of outstanding compensation to farmers affected by destruction caused by wild animals. Government will also increase Ipelegeng quota by 3 000 slots to cater for referred eligible beneficiaries as well as inclusion of running and material costs for new projects in the budget to enable efficient implementation of the programme.
In addition, the release reads that direct feeding initiative for children aged six to 59 months in localities with a high prevalence of malnutrition would be re-introduced and that there will be a continuation of provision of supplementary school feeding to all primary schools and a second meal in all remote area communities' primary schools countrywide.
Furthermore, government will continue the provision of food rations for vulnerable groups such as children aged below five, TB outpatients as well as medically selected lactating and expectant mothers.
The press release, which indicates that the above measures commenced on July 1, and will continue until June 30 next year, stated that the declaration of an arable drought year followed consideration of the Drought and Household Food Security Assessment and Analysis exercise, which was undertaken from April 16 to May 25.
The announcement from the ministry says the assessment indicated that the 2017/18 rainfall season was characterised by two distinct patterns, which showed that rainfall was unevenly distributed and that the occurrence of a heat wave in the middle of the ploughing season also lowered the hectorage planted.
It however says that livestock is anticipated to survive until the next rainy season though the situation could change.
Source : BOPA