Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Members of Parliament have rejected a motion requesting government to consider supplementing North West District cattle farmers who sell their cattle to Botswana Meat Commission (BMC).
At the end of the motion debate on Friday, a vote was put forward with those in support, mainly opposition MPs tallying 17 while 28 MPs, mainly BDP MPs rejected it. 19 MPs were absent at the time of voting.
In his submission, proponent of the motion Maun East MP Goretetse Kekgonegile requested that the house should supplement North West farmers who sell their cattle to BMC in relation to the cost of quarantining cattle for thirty days before they reach the BMC.
He stated that farmers in the District are unable to enjoy their return on investment adding that this has even contributed to the increased number of dying cattle.
Kekgonegile further highlighted that challenges in North West are unique and therefore government should find how best to assist as the region continues to be in red zone.
“Government is showing no regard for farmers in the North West region and it pains me knowing that a little is being done to assist even when we all know that our region is the second contributor to the GDP through tourism,”
“Clearly developments will always be lagging considering that whenever a motion is brought forward, people tend to look at who is proposing the motion,” said Kekgonegile.
He further said government has made a series of promises to North West farmers.
Kekgonegile said it is increasingly becoming difficult for farmers in the region to continue with farming , saying that they have tried in vain over the years to ensure that the environment is conducive for them.
“It is disappointing that government continues to boast that she spends 31 million pula trying to assist Ngamiland farmers on annual basis yet the sum of 5 billion pula goes into government purse every year coming from Ngamiland,” added Kekgonegile.
For his part, The Acting Minister of Agricultural Development and Food Security Dr Edwin Dikoloti said Ngamiland falls under disease control 2 and classified as a red zone.
He said government spares the sum of 31 million every year to vaccinate cattle against Foot and mouth disease.
“This huge investment is hugely directed towards assisting Ngamiland farmers so that they can sell their fresh bovine meat to the International market,”
“I must also state that we have three abattoirs that are compliant with international standards,” said Dikoloti.
He said quarantining of cattle in government facilities demand the right infrastructure, to be cared for, holding facilities and maintenance of the facilities adding that this is always done by government.
He said they always plead with cattle farmers to ensure that they transport their cattle as most of the costs are taken care of by government.
“I once visited the region and I was happy to find that farmers have formed cooperatives to enable them to carry out their duties while government does other duties,”
“We have on farm quarantine and I speak to you right now we have assessed and given 10 people the right to quarantine cattle in their farms,” added Dikoloti.
Dikoloti said Ngamiland farmers continues to avail markets adding that farmers are also able to sell their live cattle.
On the other hand, Ngamiland Joint Farmers Association Chairman Frank Mafela said farming in the region has become difficult due to growing challenges.