As a result of farming commercialisation success, small scale farmers in the Boteti region have resolved to form associations and lobby groups in order to increase engagement with markets.
Tikologo Small Stock Association which was established in 2011, is a group of 25 members which is aimed at improving small stock farming and promoting profitable small stock breeding. In an interview with Sunday Standard, The Association’s Secretary Connie Mafuta said they do not yet have any projects currently.
“Our intention is to start drawing both short and long term strategic plans effective from the first month of 2016. From tomorrow we will be meeting in a three day workshop with the department of animal production, Birdlife Botswana and other departments,” said Mafuta.
She said one of the challenges they face is the lack of availability of land where they can start a project on Artificial Insemination. “Such a plot can be helpful in the growth of the association in the sense that we can have a marketing point. Members would bring their livestock there for selling. The farm will also be used for various activities like injection of livestock as well as some research projects,” she said.
She expressed hope that the workshop will also address issues pertaining to climate change. In the past they worked with the department of animal production and Birdlife Botswana to find ways of raising funds for projects.
Dr Kabelo Senyatso, Director of Birdlife Botswana revealed that they work in liaison with the association partly to address the issue of human/predator conflict. For a period of time, farmers, including those that are in the Boteti region have been at loggerheads with the government over predators that kill their livestock and destroy their crops.
“It is difficult to convince farmers that conflict can be addressed without killing the animals. It is working with government departments and groups like this association which can make our work much easier. Farmers tend to use chemicals the Ministry of Agriculture supplies and chemicals originally meant for pest control end up being used as poison for predators. There is need to educate people on the use of chemicals,” said Senyatso.
He urged Civil Society Organisations to access the documents which the government has come up with. However, he bemoaned the fact that there are chemicals that have been banned in other countries, which are still being used in Botswana though it is signatory to a number of coalitions.