Invested over P61.4m in the Mosi/Sedibeng Block for farm development, machinery acquisition and working capital over the years
This year marks the 5th anniversary of our relationship as CEDA and the Mosisedi Commercial Farmers Association (MCFA); a result of the support we pledged to the Association in 2014 which culminated in its inaugural Harvest Day as an Association. These five years have seen the Association grow from strength to strength through the Memorandum of Understanding between the Association and the Agency. This agreement has allowed CEDA to provide the Mosisedi farmers with technical and financial support and thus putting emphasis on CEDA's commitment to the farming sector throughout the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, today's theme ("Farming with Resilience") could not have come at a better time as our country is dealing with the effects of drought. This is the 4th time in the past 5 years where farmers are walking empty handed from their fields due to drought. Prolonged mid-season dry spells, late onset of rains and erratic rain patterns have become the order of the day. These have resulted in a drastic reduction in the area planted in this region from 10, 140ha in 2017/18 to 1, 925ha in the current cropping season (2018/19); an 81% drop in production.
CEDA has invested over P61.4m in the Mosi/Sedibeng Block for farm development, machinery acquisition and working capital over the years. Our plan as CEDA was to increase this investment as we aid farmers in improving their farming techniques, however the plans have not materialised due to reduced output which resulted in failure by most farmers to honour their obligations with us. During the current season (2018/19) the Agency invested P8.8m as compared to P9.6m in 2017/18 for working capital.
This phenomenon is not unique to the Mosi/Sedibeng Block, as farmers across the country are facing the same challenges. CEDA has measures in place to assist farmers, which include:
Restructuring of loans for those farmers that could not pay their instalments due to losses associated with adverse weather conditions.
CEDA continues to engage and collaborate with other stakeholders such as the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) to find means of assisting farmers. Provision of free Business Advisory Services to farmers as well as encourage linkages across the industry value chain. Encourage our farmers to subscribe to the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) set up by Government to assist dry-land farmers with crop cover. The cover is meant to assist dry-land crop farmers in reducing their debt obligations with participating bank(s)/lending institutions in case of crop failure, due to drought, floods, frost and hailstorm.
The Agency has continued to accept funding applications from farmers that were unable to settle their 15% portions of their seasonal loans. We are happy that Government is fast-tracking a drought management strategy and incorporating climate change interventions in agriculture in an effort to introduce drought compliant crops and livestock. As an Agency, we pledge our support to these initiatives, as we stand ready to assist farmers across the country to adapt to these changes.
*CEDA CEO Thabo Thamane addressing farmers during Mosisedi Harvest Day on 03 May 2019 held under the theme "Farming with resilience".