Sehithwa — Some dikgosi and farmers’ committee members have called on government to drill and equip unused boreholes in Ngamiland District to mitigate the impact of a severe drought.

They said the district had many boreholes, which could be allocated to the communities to water their livestock.

They aired their views during a meeting addressed by the Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security, Mr Fidelis Molao, in Sehithwa recently.

The community leaders said their district needed a special treatment due to the situation at Lake Ngami and other water sources which left many cattle and wild animals dead.

They appreciated that the country had been struck by drought, but stated that the severity of the situation differed from region to region.

They also appreciated that government had declared 2018/19 a drought year, but stated that the interventions should not be one size fits all,.

Farmers stated that government subsidies did not benefit them as expected because they were struggling to survive since their district had been declared a red zone.

They indicated that 35 per cent subsidy of livestock feed was also not benefitting them because of inadequate feeds and medicines in existing outlets.

Farmers proposed that the subsidy be increased to 100 per cent considering the severity of the situation.

One of the farmers, Mr Zacharea Nguvauva said the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) P3 increase did not make any difference since they were struggling to sell cattle at the Maun abattoir.

He said farmers were unable to implement the new arrangement of sending cattle to the Makalamabedi quarantine because the facility was full and farmers were frustrated by the late payments.

Another farmer, Mr Charles Madisa, said the arrangement of syndicates was not producing results since some members were experiencing financial constraints to engage experts to flush the allocated boreholes.

The experts, he said, charged a lot of money and wished the government could intervene.

Mr Madisa wished the P3 increase could be extended to private abattoirs and also called on government to consider demarcating farms so that farmers could drill boreholes.

Mr Caterpillar Hikuama said the drought had brought shame to farmers and suggested that a short term intervention be introduced; saying watering the remaining livestock would be a welcome development while looking for medium and long lasting interventions.

He also stated that some farmers owned boreholes but were overwhelmed to water matimela and asked if the government could meet farmers half way and assist with purchasing of diesel so that they water the said matimela cattle.

In response, Dr John Moreki from the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security, explained that the 35 per cent subsidy was introduced after an assessment of the drought situation in the whole country.

Dr Moreki stated that they were aware of the late payments by BMC but said currently, the government injected P160 million to the abattoir to speed up payments.

For his part, Minister Molao said they would look into their proposals and compile a report which would be submitted to cabinet to map a way forward.

He assured them that soon they would share the decision taken by the government.

Source: Botswana Daily News.