Sunday, September 24, 2023

De Graaff says drought assessment report ready

The Minister of Agriculture, Christiaan De Graaff, has told Pandamatenga farmers that the drought assessment report for the current year is ready and under consideration, pending appropriate action.

Officiating at the Pandamatenga Agriculture Show last week, the minister explained that the report was ready but he could not shed light on what it entailed although drought continues to ravage most parts of the country, which experienced low crop yields.

De Graff said that, as climate change continues to negatively impact on both arable and livestock farming in the country, it is important for farmers to diversify their produce and find alternative methods of production to mitigation against the climatic challenges.

“Farmers should consider diversifying their produce. As you produce you should understand that you are part of the value chain therefore you should consider producing more than grain, but also produce stock feed for the livestock industry. You could also do this by utilizing your failed crops and crop residues before they lose their nutritive content,” he said.

De Graaff said his ministry takes food security seriously hence will be presenting the draft Bio-Safety Policy in the current parliament session for consideration.

On a different note, De Graaff said that his ministry seriously takes note of the risks faced by farmers in cases of drought and other natural disasters due to the unavailability of insurance facilities.

He said that as a consequence of the situation, he has received several submissions and requests from various farming groups requesting government to consider extending the Agriculture Credit Guaranteed Scheme (ACGS) to other commercial banks instead of limiting it to CEDA and NDB.

“The argument is that this will widen the financing base of your choices and, in turn, enable further development of the agricultural sub sector. Your views are very important and, therefore, my ministry has started discussions with the relevant authorities within government to explore the feasibilities,” he stated.

De Graaff commended the Chobe Agriculture Show saying that ever since its inception in 2000, it has grown in leaps and bounds. He further noted that the government takes agriculture seriously as evidenced by ongoing efforts to facilitate enhanced output.

He added that in Chobe the initiative is on-going as government is already implementing the multi-million Pula agricultural infrastructure project.

The African Development Bank is co-financing the project, which is expected to be completed next year.

“It is not by chance that this project is situated in Pandamatenga. It is because of the high potential benefits and returns that are envisaged,” he said.

The Pandamatenga Agriculture Show was held under the theme, “Unity and Technology for Chobe filling the food basket,”


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