Vaalhoek — The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land and Housing members comprising nine Members of Parliament were in Kgalagadi district on Monday October 19 to appreciate challenges in the district and possibly devise ways of influencing legislation in various aspects to address the challenges faced by the communities.
Speaking during a tour of Lobu Smallstock Farm, Tsabong multi-species abattoir plot and meeting with Vaalhoek farmers committee, the committee chairperson, Mr Mephato Reatile said the team served to provide oversight on legislation related to Agriculture and lands and housing.
The objective of the working visit was to gain first hand insight into related matters.
He said akin to other parliamentary committees, the committee was formed by MPs from across the political divide who were obliged to put aside party differences and collectively using an evidence based approach solve challenges.
The committee, he said, would traverse the country reaching areas such as Tutume where at the end it would produce a comprehensive report that would influence policy and legislation on various agriculture issues gathered on the ground.
Therefore, he said, it was critical for farmers associations to speak thread bare truth and for government officials to openly share with the Parliamentary committee their progress and challenges faced.
This, he said would enable legislators to gain full insight into matters for the purpose of drawing legislation that responds adequately to challenges on the ground.
On Lobu, MP Reatile said Lobu Smallstock Farm should enroll all Batswana and not just serve farmers in Kgalagadi area or the southern part of Botswana.
He said all Batswana should benefit from the smallstock training offered by the institution to improve their smallstock.
For his part, acting Kgalagadi District Agricultural Coordinator Mr Bornwell Mabechu said the district continued to improve in agriculture despite rampant drought seasons and unfavourable crop production conditions.
He said that in the 2019/2020 ploughing season the district experienced improved rainfall as a result hectares ploughed in this season were 1968.18 hectares which was much higher when compared to the previous ploughing season which was 534.58 hectares for both Kgalagadi north and south.
The mandate of the department, he said, was to promote food security to ensure a prosperous and globally competitive agricultural sector.
To achieve that, government had put programmes and policies in place to be implemented by the ministry such as the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID), and Integrated Support Programme for Arable Agriculture Development (ISPAAD). Under LIMID, he said since its inception of the second phase in September 2010 a total of 4 789 applications were approved where 4 511 have been implemented amounting to P51 million.
He said 11 community boreholes were equipped at a cost of P3 million. Meanwhile, he said, in 2019/2020 financial year, 214 beneficiaries were issued with packages of smallstock, fodder processors and a kraal.
He said owing to the uniqueness of Kgalagadi district, special ISPAAD was implemented where 517 applications were approved.
The Tsabong Multi-species abattoir logistics were being put in place to prepare for its construction which was expected to kick off before the end of 2020/2021 financial year.
Mr Mabechu divulged that Kgalagadi District farming systems were predominantly livestock production hence the need to work on improving production. Various research trials were being carried out to address the agro-ecological zone challenges such as climate change by adopting climate smart agriculture through various researches.
For his part, Tsabong Sub District Council chairperson Mr Ronald Baitsewe appreciated the Parliamentary committee for the visit which he said would assist to bring to fruition some of the pending key projects such as the Tsabong multispecies abattoir.
He said adding that Kgalagadi is the hub of smallstock therefore it was important to fast track construction of the abattoir. He appealed to the committee to use its muscle to advocate for the actualisation after making an independent assessment.
He added that drought remained a challenge in the district as some areas were hardest hit hence requested for legislators to advocate for programmes and policies that were tailor made for Kgalagadi district.
Source : BOPA