Thursday, October 22, 2020

Agricultural college of dumping grain instead of giving it the needy

The Councillor for Mmopane, Phagenyane Phage, has accused the Botswana College of Agriculture for what he termed waste of food, such as sorghum and ground nuts, while poor people in rural areas go without meals.

Commenting during a report presented by Mpho Mogotsi, the Agricultural Officer in the district, Councillor Phage said he had been informed that after storing grains for the whole year, the BCA dumped the grains, mixing it with soil using tractor ploughs. He said five hundred bags of grain had been destroyed this way.

“Why can’t this grain be given to poor people in rural areas there instead of such waste?” asked Phage.

He further lamented the fact that farmers in his ward are denied seeds, adding that since the beginning of this ploughing season, several farmers have been complaining that the Agricultural demonstrator in Mmopane had been refusing to give them seeds.

Another councillor, Ofentse Mareme of Gabane North East, said he asked the officer who gave agricultural report last year to bring him answers regarding tractor ploughs that were allegedly so heavy that no tractor could carry them. He said the ploughs were in Sebele at the BCA and he wanted the officer to give them explanations as to how the ploughs were bought and by who since they proved to be a waste of money.

“She promised to give us a report, now nothing is said. What we hear is that they have been hidden. Once you hear that these reports are known to us then you should know that people are really concerned about what is happening. If there are problems with procurement, admit that there are problems and find ways of solving them,” said Mareme.

Councillor Julia Kolobe asked whether amendments were made on ISPAADD ploughing fees. She said farming was tough on small farmers as tractor operators forced them to pay P100 per hector in advance before ploughing fields.

Councillor Molatedi Selala wondered what the Ministry of Agriculture had been doing such that it had just issued a press release inviting farmers to purchase seeds for ploughing instead of waiting for the government’s seeds. These were still being treated.

Responding to their comments, Mogotsi said they, as MOA, meet regularly with the Land Board. It has been agreed that those farmers who have been compensated for their ploughing fields would not be permitted to plough them. The Agricultural Officer at Mmopane has been made aware of that. But in cases where there might have been error it would be attended to.

On heavy ploughs, she said, to her knowledge, ploughs have been sent out to service stations. She did not have any information on the heavy ploughs or who sold them but would take the matter to her superiors.

Sebele was a research area, so she did not know whether they destroyed grains the way Councillor Phage was saying. She said that the grain could be hybrid seeds, which is used only once so if their expiry date comes, maybe burying them could be the best solution.

She said the amount of P400 per hector shall remain so until after assessment. Operators might be forced to charge extra amount by the bite from the fuel hike.

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