Thursday, May 23, 2024

Farmers embrace revised feeds subsidy 

The farming community has widely welcomed government’s decision to subsidize feeds after persistent calls to meet them halfway amid drought season.

This comes after government indicated that in view of the conditions that prevailed during the 2022/23 season, relief measures, action and assistance will be implemented with immediate effect until June 30, 2024, save for livestock feed subsidies which will end on January 31, 2024.

Government indicated that the Ministry of Finance will pay 40 per cent of the seasonal loans to farmers who received loans from the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and National Development Bank (NDB) for rain fed arable farmers through the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) facility to supplement the crop failure as was determined at the time of the assessment.

As for the Ministry of Agriculture, the release says provision will be made for 30 per cent livestock (beef cattle, small stock) feed Subsidy for roughage, mineral supplements and botulism vaccine for the entire country with immediate effect until January 31, 2024 while volumes would be capped per beneficiary to promote equitable distribution.

Additionally the media release says provision will be made for a 30 per cent subsidy for non-traditional commodities (dairy, piggery, aquaculture and poultry) for smallholder farmers, with immediate effect until January 31, 2024 with volumes to be capped per beneficiary to promote equitable distribution.

Botswana Beef Producers Union (BNBPU) Spokesperson Andrew Seeletso said it was long overdue for government to effect subsidies given that it has been a drought year.

“It is a difficult season as most people know that it has been declared a drought year, so most farmers have lost their livestock due to famine as most could not find vegetation to feed on. Cattle population on the other hand has been on the decline because when you consider all these challenges, it becomes difficult for farmers to carry on with livestock farming on a commercial scale. Farmers cannot even sell and get better returns due to drought,” added Seeletso.

The Association mouthpiece said with subsidized livestock feeds in stock, most farmers have started to utilize the special dispensation adding that this will improve their farming confidence.

“I want to believe that farmers across the country will make use of this dispensation given that it has proven to be a rough year. We continue to engage with government on matters that can improve farming in the country and we are glad that they realized the importance of meeting farmers halfway,” said Seeletso.

For his part, Botswana Poultry Farmers Association Chairman Ishmael Mosinyi also said even though poultry farmers were concerned with the soaring prices of chicken feeds, they are grateful that government has finally agreed to their demands.

“As you know that Botswana is self-sufficient in Poultry production, we had to lobby government on different fronts to subsidize farmers so that our self-sufficient status can be maintained. This is one sector that we ought to jealously guard against. We also need to ensure that even small poultry farmers are given the much needed boost to grow and supply both local and regional markets,” said Seeletso.

In the just ended Parliament session, government had indicated that subsidizing farmers will not be achievable.

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