Beneficiaries of the Orapa and Letlhakane Mines’ Corporate and Social Investment programme have hailed the initiative as a source of empowerment and sustainable community development.
In 2007, the Mines committed P1.3 million to community projects in the field of education and community development, sports and environment, among others. A number of Boteti Sub District residents recently embarked on a training course on commercial rearing of traditional chickens at Malotwana. The course included, among others, care and management of eggs, incubation, vaccinations and waste management for self sufficiency.
Speaking in an interview, one of the course participants, Keletso Ketshabetswe, said the course was an eye opener for him as a young farmer.
“I have gained invaluable knowledge and have already implemented some of the initiatives that I learnt from the course,” he stated. He further said he would like to take traditional chicken farming to greater heights and establish his own farm so as to extend the legacy that Debswana has bestowed upon him to fellow youths. He commended the Mines for the training and urged members of the community to take advantage of the training programmes as they are a source of farming skills.
For Regina Raphael, a Letlhakane resident, the course was God-sent as she has started reaping the benefits of rearing traditional chickens. “Since I came back from training, I have managed to set up a chicken shelter and I am in the process of selling some of the chickens to the community,” she said. Raphael said that she had since contacted the agricultural department regarding funding for her project. She, however, revealed that she has been allocated a plot but has not been able to develop it through lack of funds.
“I hope that my success will motivate others to take up chicken rearing on a commercial basis,” she said pragmatically.
According to Kagiso Tshipietsile, also from Letlhakane, the training was worthwhile as she was taught the use of an incubator and, most importantly, the vaccinations. Kagiso said that she would like to see more young people taking part in such initiatives as the benefits are high. “My aim is to grow my business and be a contact point whenever people require traditional chickens,” she said. As an out of school youth, Kagiso advised fellow youths to consider setting up their own businesses as opposed to the common white collar jobs, more so as they are hard to come by these days.
For his part, the Mines’ General Manager, Seb Sebetlela, reiterated his company’s commitment to creating a long lasting legacy of community development, epitomized by self-reliance. He said this is inline with the overall Debswana business strategy and augments the national Vision 2016.
It is not the first time that Debswana has funded the ailing agriculture sector in Botswana. Last year, Debswana Diamond Company Managing Director, Blackie Marole, presented a whooping P600 000 to agriculture minister Johnnie Swartz as funding for a number of agricultural shows to be held throughout the country.