he Council Chairperson of North East District (NEDC), Flora Mpetsane has raised concerns about rampant drought in the area, saying the number of farmers who ploughed this year has dropped drastically due to poor rains.
Opening the ordinary full council meeting in Masunga on Monday, Mpetsane revealed that so far a total of about 1 277.8 hectares of land have been planted by 439 farmers; as compared to the 9417.11 hectares that were planted by 2936 farmers in the year 2014/2015 season. The North East District has about 17 000 of cultivatable land.
“This shows a decrease of approximately 8 139.31 hectares and a decrease of 2 497 farmers. An observation of high charges ranging from P200 to P300 per hectare by private contractors and the prolonged dry spell have also contributed to a drop in the number of farmers engaged in ploughing this season,” she said.
Out of the total measured hactorage this year, about 211.94 hectares have been row planted by 76 farmers as compared to 8 214.35 hectares row planted by 925 farmers in the past ploughing season. Mpetsane said the situation is alarming to the extent that some farmers have replanted.
“I have been informed that crop stage ranges from emergence to vegetative as compared to last season 2014/2015 when crop stages were ranging from vegetative to flowering this time around. This could lead to total crop failure in the district which will result on low or no yield and zero production,” Mpetsane added.
She implored councilors to combine efforts and come with robust interventions in order to cushion their rural population from the looming drought. Mpetsane said there is need to engage their people and advise them to participate fully on government Economic Empowerment Programmes. She also added that councilors need to strengthen information dissemination strategies so that every Motswana is well informed about available government programmes.
Touching on education, she said it is pleasing to note that the North East District performed exceptionally well in the 2015 Primary School Leaving Examinations(PSLE) by attaining 83.6 percent pass rate against the district baseline of 79.7 percent. She however lamented the performance of the Junior Secondary Schools as they dropped to 39.8 percent against the district baseline of 46.6 percent.
“This is an issue of concern to the district. We need to do thorough assessment as a district to find out factors affecting our performance especially at Junior Secondary Schools,” she said.
Among other important issues she said there health services have improved in the district, as evidenced by introduction of physiotherapy which will significantly assist in the care of the people living with disability. Mpetsane also added that there is a Ya Tsie Study, a project which covers aspects of HIV/Aids prevention, care and bringing the services to the people in their home setting
“However, Safe Male Circumcision campaign for the third quarter had only 149 clients against the targeted 300. There has been a decline in the number of both teenage pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases for the same quarter and the measure instituted should be continued. It is also pleasing to note that the maternal to child transmission rate is at zero,” Mpetsane said.
Updating the full council on the availability of drugs in the district’s health facilities she said the average district drug availability levels for the quarter ending December 2015 was above 80 percent. She added that the vital drugs were at 93.4 percent and essential and necessary were at 90.2 percent and 81.8 percent respectively. As for vaccines, Mpetsane said Tubercolosis(TB) drugs and hypertensive drugs are at 100 percent.