Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Mr KgotlaAutlwetse, says the country has been experiencing severe drought that affected both arable and pastoral farming.
Addressing a kgotla meeting at Semolale in the Bobonong constituency on April 26, he said it was against this background that government declared drought in the country through efforts such as subsidised stock feeds.
He said in 2013/14, stock feeds were reduced by 20 per cent and further reduced by 50 per cent in 2014/15.
He said even this year, crops failed and he advised farmers to sell some of their livestock and invest the proceeds.
Mr Autlwetse said such livestock must be sold while still healthy so that they could attract competitive prices.
However, he said despite the challenge of inadequate rainfall, people must not lose hope, but must continue to show love for the agriculture sector by looking after their fields and livestock.
Mr Autlwetse said it was disheartening to realise that farmers no longer took pride in farming as evidenced by some beneficiaries who failed to look after livestock such as poultry and small stock gained through LIMID programme.
He explained that the agricultural programmes were sound to the point where some countries visited Botswana for benchmarking purposes.
He said livestock acquired through LIMID were not taken care of as they went astray, died of diseases whereas other animals not acquired through the same programmes were well taken care of by the owners.
Mr Autlwetse advised farmers to be committed and ensure that the country produced enough food to ensure food security and sustainability.
Other neighbouring countries, he stated, were able to produce enough with the same climatic conditions and advised Batswana to up their game in the agriculture sector.
Concerning the cordon fence, he said people must also help government and take responsibility by mending the worn out fence as sometimes the wearing off happened nearer to their cattle posts.
Answering farmers’ worries concerning livestock that crossed into Zimbabwe he said it was upon Batswana to look after their livestock because the country sells to the competitive European Union market while the neighbours consume locally.
Mr Autlwetse said very soon Zimbabwe cattle that cross into Botswana would be culled to address FMD as it affects the country’s beef market.
Farmers in Zone seven he stated, would be given free ear tags based on the fact that they were not able to sell cattle.
Earlier on, Kgosi Phineas Madema expressed concern about the delapidated cordon fence along Shashe River which exacerbates the spread of FMD.
He said that hampers efforts to control diseases as animals cross to the other side freely.
Village development committee chairperson Mr GabanaMosebola told the assistant minister that people in the villages of Mabolwe, Semolale and Gobojango welcomed government programmes like ISPAAD and drought relief schemes like subsidies of stock feeds.
He said there was a need to insert bolus so that Batswana livestock can be identified after being stolen into Zimbabwe by cattle rustlers.
He said it was difficult to indentify livestock because criminals temper with earmarks and brands.
Mr Mosebola added that it was a waste of government funds to continue to cull livestock that cross into red zone although such animals were vaccinated with purified vaccine, the medication that has proven to effectively control Foot and Mouth Disease.
Concerning ISPAAD programme, he stated that farmers in the area do not have draught power because some of their animals were stolen into Zimbabwe and called for increase in the number of tractors.