Monday, December 11, 2023

A nation of white elephants

Botswana could surely be classified as a country of elephants – grey and white alike. The latter refers to buildings scattered all over the country while the former means the animals largely found in national parks game reserves in the northern part of the country.

Over the years, the nation has been accustomed to government buildings that have not been put to use, otherwise known as white elephants.

In Tonota, the Sub District finds itself having to battle with these white elephants. The Chairperson of the sub district Christian Machokoto has already expressed disappointment over the under-utilization of Tonota College of Education (TCE) Dairy farm which has been lying idle for years since its inception.

The project forms part of the 72 hectare farm which is owned by TCE. Twelve hectares of this land was set aside to keep dairy cows, poultry, sheep, fish and bee keeping. The farm is also used to grow crops, fruit trees and has a milking parlour.

Addressing a full council meeting last week which was held virtually Machokoto revealed that the milking parlour at this dairy farm has at least 14 milking points. He said the capacity of the milking containers allows for 140 cows to be milked per day.

“Due to the robustness of the milking parlour and the absence of enough cows in the college to be milked to the capacity of the containers, the milking parlour has never been used by the college since its construction,” he said.

“This is a high economic potential project that is just idling. As government we need to see to it that this project is put to full use, especially taking into account the amount of government money spent in its establishment,” he added.

He however since the milking parlour has never worked, in an effort to utilize the project, TCE considered a number of options that include entering an agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture to use this milking parlour as a demonstration facility to local farmers. One of the initiatives he said was to lease it out to interested persons or companies or groups for a certain period of time.

“Todate, TCE has established a team of five officers to facilitate the leasing of the facility where report shall be submitted to the Ministerial Tender Committee,” he said.

Giving updates on crop production in the sub district, he said ploughing and planting for the year 2020/ 2021 started around the third week of October 2020 and 10 178.43 hectares were planted by 3 044 farmers. He said that constituted 41 percent of the cultivable baseline by 25 000 hectares. He also said currently collection of production data is ongoing and expected yield average ranges between 5 to 20 bags per hectare.

“Generally, a good harvest is expected due to good rains received as compared to the past seasons. With regards to inputs registration for the next ploughing season 2021/2022, a total of 4 068 farmers have already registered and that constitutes a total of 102.23 metric tonnes of seeds,” Machokoto said.

Explaining the horticulture situation in Tonota Sub District he said a total of 26.8 hectares of horticultural crops have been planted for the quarter under review and a production of 259.34 tonnes have been harvested from an area of 19.70 hectares. He said the harvest was produced by 65 farmers. He also said this constituted sale to the total of P1 540 338.50. Fruit production constituted a harvest of 45.95 tonnes produced by two farmers and the sales stood at P160 825.00.

He further revealed that under the Economic Diversification Drive (EDD) implemented through school feeding programmes, at least eight tonnes of vegetables were supplied to schools by 11 farmers and that generated an income to the tune of P96 800.00.


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