Botswana: Drought Management Strategy Critical

Lobu — A robust drought management strategy should be drawn and implemented as a matter of urgency to counter drought seasons.

This was said by the Minister for Presidential Affairs Governance and Public Administration Mr Nonofo Molefhi during a Rural Development Council (RDC) special meeting at Lobu Smallstock Farm recently.

Mr Molefhi said a comprehensive drought management strategy would help avert any possible drought challenges.

He observed that drought crippled the agricultural sector and in turn impacted on the economy, hence the need for intensive research to be carried out.

He therefore, called upon agricultural researchers, meteorologists, range ecologists and other stakeholders to collaborate and tackle climate change head-on.

Minister Molefhi was speaking on behalf of RDC chairperson, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane.

He noted that the adverse effects of climate change had caused Botswana to have unending droughts, which must be planned for through a comprehensive strategy such that no year should be declared a drought year.

Thus, he said, it was against this backdrop that experts shall be roped in to assist to seamlessly devise and embed the strategy in government programmes and policies.

"Our strategies should be tailored such that they withstand drought," he said.

He said Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) should be tasked to spearhead this strategy as a matter of urgency.

"If we are to achieve our objectives of developing the agricultural sector, we have to breathe on their neck. Research should be intensified and researchers should move away from the comfort of their offices and have their boots on the ground to improve livelihoods," he said

He said government poverty eradication policies should yield more sustainable results and add value to the economy, which would in turn, drive other sectors of the economy such as education, health and industries.

The minister stated that the Tsabong Small Stock Abattoir construction had long been on cards albeit delays, thus he said government shall fast-track the project so that upon completion, small-stock shall be slaughtered and possibly penetrate the international market.

He said government intention with Lobu Smallstock Farm was to develop Kgalagadi region to be the hub of small stock, where farmers would be trained and breeds developed and sold nationwide to improve small-stock farming.

Subsequently, he said commercial small-stock farmers would be supported to supply and satisfy the local market and penetrate the international market.

He said the market was abundant in countries such as Saud Arabia, which required one million goats, thus he said it was pertinent to continue to develop Lobu.

Speaking on behalf of Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Mr Fidelis Molao, permanent secretary in the Mr Jimmy Opelo said the Agricultural sector had great potential to improve the lives of Batswana.

He said the mandate of Lobu was centered around improving the rural lives of communities and contribute to the growth of the economy.

He said a Lobu Smallstock Farm resuscitation plan was underway, thus it was pertinent to appreciate its progress and give guidance where necessary and redefine milestones where necessary to ensure objectives were achieved.

The objectives he said, were to supply farmers with quality breeding stock, increase the profitability of small-stock operations in the country and create a market, create jobs and investment opportunities in value chain, transform Botswana into a small-stock hub using Lobu as a centre of excellence as well as improve economic growth and diversification.

He appreciated the Kgalagadi region for preserving the karakul sheep, boer goat and other breeds when no one else did.

The meeting was held under the theme: Enhancing the Rural Economy Through Smallstock Production in the Kgalagadi District.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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