Minister of Health, Dr John Seakgosing, recently showered praises on Pandamatenga farmers for their immense contribution towards food production in the country, despite challenges that are currently be-devilling the agriculture sector.
Officially opening the Pandamatenga Harvest Day last week, the Minister said that although the agriculture sector is reeling from challenges mainly posed by climate change, farmers in Pandamatenga continue to be trendsetters in terms of food production.
“Even though farmers in the country experienced challenges of flooding of fields due to heavy rains received across the country, I am informed that they managed to plant about 34 195 hectares this year as compared to 29 658 hectares last year. Of the total planted last year, 31 895 hectares are for commercial farmers in Pandamatenga. This is a sign of commitment and dedication. The production ranges from 2.5 tons to three tons per hector compared to one ton per hector last year. This is indeed great success,” he said.
Dr Seakgosing encouraged the farmers to strive for excellence and come up with new innovative ways to counteract adverse impacts that haunt the agricultural production sector. He also advised farmers to change their mindset and turn challenges into opportunities.
“Although climate change has adverse effects, it also creates opportunities for us to consider other crops that previously would not do well in our environment. Therefore there is need for farmers to change their mindset and search for opportunities in the midst of challenges,” he said.
He added that government has taken a deliberate step to assist farmers to boost Botswana’s food basket particularly in Pandamatenga.
“Construction of road networks and drainage systems funded by the African Development Bank and government of Botswana is on-going at present. Bush clearing of 2500 hectares of small holder farms is almost complete. This project will assist farmers to access their fields during the rainy season and also increase the hectorage under production at present. This is part of government efforts to assist the farmers,” said the minister.
He added that consultations on Zambezi Integrated Agro-Commercial Development Project is also on-going and the project is intended to irrigate an area of about 35 000 hectares, drawing 495 million cubic meters from the Zambezi river.
Dr Seakgosing said that for local goods to compete internationally there is need for continuous improvement in all aspects of production. He said it is important for Botswana to produce enough food so that Batswana are not vulnerable to hunger, malnutrition and even instability.
“As a health practitioner, personally I am witness to the fact that lack of adequate food is the source of many health problems,” he said.
The Pandamatenga Harvest Day was celebrated under the theme “Unity and Technology of Chobe, filling the Botswana Food Basket.”