Thursday, May 23, 2024

Food security remains fragile at best and illusory at worst

Ploughing started late this year across the country because government took long to disburse the seeds.

And even then, there was an added problem that rains were not sufficient and to make matters worse there was a stand off between government and tractor owners who felt that the money offered by government totally failed to take into account the unusually high fuel costs that had come as a result of global geopolitics.

By the time government took a decision to increase the prices to the tractor owners, many of them had moved on and taken a decision that this year they would not be taking part in the government assisted soil tilling programmes.

The late arrival of seeds has also discouraged a good number of farmers.

In short a number of factors have conspired to undermine ploughing this year.

Botswana is making enormous strides towards food security.

For now government is doing the heavy lifting.

But soon government will have to give way.

Farming has to be left to serious people who want to make it not only a way of life, but also their business.

And those are the dedicated people who are willing to use their resources to make it happen.

For now government should keep going.

Its involvement should not undermine efforts towards food security, but should rather enhance them and facilitate them.

Botswana needs to do everything to achieve food security.

A lot has been spent and the result do not in any way reflect the investment.

There is likely top be lower harvest for most of the regions across the county.

This is on account of lower rains and late rains for many parts of the country.

Batswana should be encouraged to be more flexible towards the use of modern technology in agriculture.

Things like soil testing and the use of fertilizers are not yet widespread in Botswana.

But those are absolutely necessary in the drive towards increasing yields.

Botswana needs to feed herself.

At the moment the country is importing too much food from South Africa.

Looking at the trade figures, that is unsustainable, ultimately.

Government should be applauded for closing the border for some products.

But that should be viewed as only a starting point.

Evaluation of the policy should be continual. Events on the ground point to the fact that the policy is not in so much benefitting the people government intended.

If that is so, the policy should be tweaked urgently.

Such responsiveness would bring the country much closer to achieving the intended goals.

More young people should be encouraged to join farming.

This will not be easy.

But with time, young people will join when they see how commercially rewarding agriculture really is.

The need to use appropriate technology is as important as the need to use appropriate seeds for example.

These are the seeds that are able to cope with our climatic conditions, but also those that the market needs.

There is still a need to connect farmlands with the necessary infrastructure.

This includes electricity, roads, and internet.

Such infrastructure would go a long way in cutting down the costs of agriculture.

Additionally such infrastructure would also go a long way in making agriculture more attractive to young people.

Botswana through various government assistance programmes has created a very strong foundation.

What the country now needs to do is to move to a higher level.

We need as a country to do that through the parameters of today’s economic realities.

Money used to be not such a big issue for Botswana.

Not anymore.

Today money is a big deal, including for Botswana government.


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