Jwaneng — As part of his efforts to promote small stock farming President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has been traversing the country, since July, giving promising farmers bucks to boost production.
President Masisi explained in such donations that he was doing so as he had a belief and confidence that the small stock sector could flourish in the country, especially looking at climatic conditions and help revive the economy from the household level.
He has not been giving out just any breed, but high quality breeds such as meat masters and kalahari reds as a way of encouraging Batswana to turn to quality for export.
In an interview with BOPA, a notable small stock farmer at Rotasapoo cattlepost near Jwaneng, Mr Oduetse Legae said that as small stock farmers, they were supportive of President Masisi's initiative.
"We believe as much as President Masisi does that the development of the small stock sector is possible, so this is an initiative that all Batswana should embrace," he said.
Mr Legae also said that the breeds that President Masisi had been giving out were quality breeds, which with proper feeding and vaccination, took a short time to be ready for the market.
He said that because of their quality, breeds such as kalahari red did not require much marketing as they were naturally catchy. He said should Batswana take the small stock sector seriously, it would help open up new markets and therefore boost the price per kilogram as there would be more competition.
"At the moment small stock farmers are being taken for a ride. We spend a lot of money to feed and raise our stock and the butchery operators buy them for a song while making profit many times over," he said.
Mr Legae also said that they had been spurred on by the fact that President Masisi had disclosed that a lucrative market for small stock had been identified in Saudi Arabia, something he said should also motivate other Batswana.
Mr Legae, who is also the chairman of Capri and Ovine, a group of 30 small stock farmers in the Jwaneng-Mabutsane constituency, said that one of their objectives as a group was to be the best small stock producing area in the country by 2036 and in the process, share the knowledge and skills with the rest of Batswana.
He said that as a move towards achieving the goal, they were planning that from next year, members would make monthly monetary contributions, then buying quality breeds at the end of the year that would be shared among members.
Mr Legae said that this would help the group members develop their breeds as they too were still at a lower standard. He said that the initiative could have started this year were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic which frustrated their efforts of meeting and planning as a unit.
Mr Legae noted that one of the bad practices common among the local farmers was their habit of keeping low quality stock in large quantity, something he said did not make sense if one wanted to rear for business.
"It does not make business sense to keep a large herd of poor quality breeds because they eat from your pocket, on the other hand bringing in low returns," he said.
Mr Legae, who mostly keeps Boer goats said that he recently introduced the Kalahari red to his stock, and said that the breed was promising.
His advice to fellow small stock farmers was that they should not be stingy when buying bucks to develop their stock. "A good quality buck would never cost P2 000. So my advice is that spend money on good quality bucks and enjoy the long term benefits," he said.
Mr Legae, who currently boasts of close to 100 goats said that he sold about 150 sheep last year to buy a farm where he planned to keep only studs. He also said that President Masisi's initiative came at the right time when the COVID-19 pandemic had eye-opened Batswana on the need to be self-sustainable in food production.
"It is now or never to embrace this initiative as it has the potential to take us far.
COVID 19 has also taught us that other sectors like mining are not forever, unlike farming. I am personally willing to drive the small stock sector development and assist President Masisi in his drive," he concluded.